Murder case finally filed, 28 months after the massacre

MANILA (MindaNews/24 March) — The Department of Justice finally began its preliminary investigation into the  murder of  news photographer Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, the 32nd  media victim out of 58 victims  in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, with a hearing at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig on March 22).

The case of Momay, photographer of the Tacurong-based Midland Review, is the last of the 58 victims to be investigated by the justice department.

Momay’s remains  have yet to be found hence the delay in his inclusion in the cases filed days after the massacre by relatives of the 57 other victims.

The only clues to his apparent death were  his dentures recovered in the  massacre site and a list of media workers who joined the entourage, found concealed in the sock of one of the journalist victims.

Momay’s daughter, Reynafe ‘Neneng’ Momay-Castillo said she was grateful the case of her father is finally gaining ground.

“Twenty eight months after.  All we want is justice for my father,” said the nurse who has not gone back to work in her quest for the prosecution of her father’s killers.

Reynafe earlier confided she was already losing hope but kept on her crusade with the help of her lawyers and other groups that are closely monitoring and pursuing the case of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.

During the preliminary investigation, Reynafe said the suspects far outnumbered their security escorts but she was not intimidated.

Reynafe brought with her a journalist who escaped death when the latter dropped out of the convoy.  The journalist executed an affidavit that he saw Reynafe’s father join the convoy.

She said she is hopeful that her father’s case will be consolidated and included in the charge sheets against the Ampatuans and other suspects.

The journalists and media workers joined the convoy of Genalyn Mangudadatu on her way to filing the certificate of candidacy of her husband, now Maguindanao governor Esmael ‘Toto’ Mangudadatu.

The convoy was  stopped by heavily armed men in Ampatuan town while on its way to the Commission on Elections provincial office in Maguindanao’s capital town of Shariff Aguak.

The passengers of the convoy were then led to a remote hill in Masalay village where they were mercilessly gunned down.  Nobody from the convoy survived.

Witnesses later identified then Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr,  as the one who led in stopping the convoy and fired the first shots that led to the death of the victims.

Andal Jr, along with his father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Sr, three brothers, including then ARMM Governor Zadly Ampatuan, and several relatives are now detained at Camp Bagong Diwa along with tens of others for the murders.

A total of 196 have been charged for the crime but less than 100 have been arrested. (Edwin Espejo/MindaNews).