DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/25 June) – A daughter of one of the 58 victims in the November 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao appealed to the public not to judge them for allegedly selling out to the Ampatuans — the principal suspects in the case — claiming that while “some may agree to sell out, many more won’t.”
Ma. Reynafe Momay-Castillo, daughter of Midland photographer Reynaldo Momay, made the appeal in a video posted in her Facebook account from her base in the United States.
The remains of her father remain missing to this day. Only his dentures were found in the vicinity of Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman,,
“Sa mga taong sumusuporta sa amin, patuloy nyo po kaming samahan. Huwag nyo kaming husgahan. Kung may ilan mang kayang gawin yun, marami pa rin kaming hindi ibebenta ang kaso” (To those who are supporting us, please continue to be accompany us [in our quest for justice]. If there are others who can afford to sell out, there are many more who won’t sell out,” she said.
She said the justice that she prays for is that the suspects will be “mabubulok sa bilangguan” (rot in jail).
Castillo said talks about money being offered to the victims’ families are “not new.”
She said in January 2011, two families went to Cotabato City to for a supposed out-of-court settlement but that there was a allegedly a lot of haggling until the offer became only P100,000. The deal did not push through.
Castillo said the present issue on alleged selling out is a handiwork of their enemy to divide them and destroy the credibility of the case.
She said it pains her that a number of the victims’ families are “very vulnerable” but added she does not think this is enough reason to destroy the group.
She said they started the fight for justice together, they should end it together.
Addressing the relatives of the victims, Castillo appealed to them, “huwag nating hayaang bigyan ng puwang ang mga kalaban na sirain tayo at sirain ang kredibilidad ng kaso” (let us not give the enemy the chance to destroy us, to destroy the credibility of the case).
She said money can come and go but credibility matters much.
“Huwag hayaan maging sakim tayo,” (let us not allow greed to overcome us), she appealed, as she reminded the victims’ relatives to give respect to their slain loved ones.
On Monday, the news that the families of at least 14 of the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre had signed a deal with the Ampatuans came as a shock to the Justice Now Movement, the association of families of the media victims.
“This is really a shocking development,” Emily Lopez, president of the Justice Now Movement, told MindaNews Monday night.
Lopez declined to comment on the allegations of sell-out by some families of the victims but like Castillo acknowledged that there were offers allegedly coming from the Ampatuans “to pay the victims’ families”
“In the past few months, I again heard that some families of the victims have been approached for a settlement,” Lopez said in a telephone interview.
Lopez said those negotiating supposedly on behalf of the Ampatuans “did not approach the families of the media victims that have shown a resolute stance on the case but those deemed with weak positions.”
Thirty-two of the 58 victims in the Ampatuan Massacre were from the media. (MindaNews)