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EDITORIAL - Justice delayed

(The Philippine Star) - November 23, 2013 - 12:00am

A lawmaker memorably said it could take 200 years before a final verdict is handed down on the massacre of 58 people in Maguindanao. With the fourth anniversary of the massacre marked today, there are fears that the lawmaker could turn out right.

Despite eyewitness testimonies provided by several individuals, the case is moving at glacial pace in the courts. Some 100 people have been indicted in the nation’s worst case of election violence, led by key members of the Ampatuan clan. At least 88 more, however, are wanted for the atrocity, among them 15 members of the clan and 74 other people, most of them belonging to the police and militia that served as the Ampatuans’ private army when they controlled the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes, who heads the special Quezon City court trying the case, hopes to resolve the cases against at least the principal defendants by 2016. The pace, however, cannot be quick enough for the relatives of the dead, of whom 38 were media members. Witnesses have been murdered and the lives of others are under constant threat. The only source of comfort for the victims’ relatives is that the once-powerful Ampatuans led by Andal Jr. remain in detention.

The massacre did not put an end to election violence or attacks against journalists, with local politicians often suspected as the brains but never caught. Many politicians continue to maintain private armies, using the so-called force multipliers to harass political opponents and intimidate journalists.

The slow process of making those responsible for the Maguindanao massacre pay for their horrific crime surely contributes to the continuing impunity. On the fourth anniversary of the massacre, relatives of the 58 massacre victims face the likelihood of an interminable wait for justice.

 

AMPATUAN AMPATUANS ANDAL JR. AUTONOMOUS REGION CASE JUDGE JOCELYN SOLIS REYES MAGUINDANAO MASSACRE MUSLIM MINDANAO QUEZON CITY
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