MASSACRE SITE, Ampatuan, Maguindanao (MindaNews/24 November) – The son of a victim of the Ampatuan Massacre on Thursday told police, military and government officials who attended the massacre’s 8th year commemoration that it might help to make use of martial law against the suspects who remain at large.
“To our brave soldiers, since Martial law is still active, can we use that power to capture the remaining at-large suspects who killed our loved ones?” Mark Jhoy Duhay, 18, son of Jhoy Duhay of Mindanao Gold Star Daily who was among the 58 victims of the carnage.
Thirty-two of the 58 victims were media workers.
Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his sons Andal “Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. and Zaldy Ampatuan were implicated as the brains behind the massacre.
Andal Sr., a former governor of Maguindanao, died on 17 July 2015 from “advanced liver cancer” at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute.
Major General Arnel Dela Vega, 6th Division commander explained that with or without martial law they won’t hesitate to extend assistance to law enforcers if the suspects are sighted and there are arrest warrants for them.
Close to 500 hundred relatives and friends, security and local officials including Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman attended the commemoration on Thursday.
Hataman said the evidence is strong enough to convict the suspects “even if you close your eyes.”
“I was saddened why it is taking eight years more with more tears and burden by the longing for the justice,” he said.
Former Buluan, Maguindanao Mayor Datu Jong Mangudadatu who discovered the massacre site said he hopes to see justice done before he dies from diabetes.
Mangudadatu expressed confidence the current administration will bring them closer to justice.
He thanked then Davao mayor and now President Rodrigo Duterte who he said lent them a helicopter to search their missing loved ones.
The testimony of Jergin Malabanan, daughter of victim Gina Malabanan brought tears to the attendees.
Jergin denied that her grandmother, who died months ago, sold illegal drugs.
“She just lied about selling drugs so that her other grandchildren would be accommodated by the Social Welfare Department because they could not feed them anymore,” she said.
The were reports that some relatives of the massacre victims sold illegal drugs for a living.
Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, who lost his wife, relatives and friends, vowed not to stop seeking justice for the victims even if he will no longer be a politician.
He said the suspects have threatened to kidnap his children.
He said the attempt to kidnap his daughter which resulted in the killing of a bodyguard of Andal Ampatuan Sr. inside a mall in Davao City was meant as a “bait”.
He said the wife of Kamenda (the suspect in the kidnap attempt) revealed to him that his husband was just a pawn “so that they can file charges against me” for the killing. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)