By ALYSSA MAE CLARIN
MANILA — Journalists and families and supporters of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre commemorated the 12th year since the single deadliest attack on the media, saying that they remain vigilant as they continue to seek justice.
Following the 2019 guilty verdict against accused Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., his brother Zaldy Ampatuan, and 41 others, the family remains hopeful that justice will soon be served to the remaining suspects still at large. Of the 80 that were at large in 2019, only five have been arrested as of this writing.
The guilty verdict is currently on appeal before the Court of Appeals.
“This only serves as a reminder that we need to keep a watchful eye on the case because this might revoke the partial guilty verdict we got in 2019,” said journalist Jonathan de Santos, chairperson of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
Apart from the guilty verdict, families of the victims of the massacre also filed a separate private complaint against 49 others before the Department of Justice (DOJ).
On Dec. 20, the NUJP and the Freedom for Media Freedom for All coalition (FMFA) held an online mass along with the families of the victims. Yesterday, Nov. 23, a noise barrage was held in Roces Park, Quezon City to highlight the need for media workers to stay vigilant, especially with the upcoming elections, and to never forget the incident that took the lives of 58 individuals.
Lawyer Nena Santos, the counsel for the families, said that out of the 49 individuals, only 8 were found with probable cause to file murder charges. She said they are planning to appeal the remaining cases before the Office of the President.
Civil damages of the 2019 verdict, too have yet to be given to the families, said Santos.
Justice Now secretary-general Grace Morales said they want complete justice for all 58 victims.
Families also remain hopeful that justice will also be given to Reynaldo Bebot Momay Jr., whose remains were not found at the massacre site.
“We cannot forget that our colleagues lost their lives for doing their jobs as journalists,” said De Santos, adding that they should continue to stand in solidarity with their colleagues as attacks continue, citing the recent cyber-attacks against Pinoy Weekly.
De Santos said, “the Ampatuan Massacre is a symbol and a symptom of the culture of impunity on the attacks on media and other civilians.” (JJE)