Snail-pace trial for Ampatuan Massacre very frustrating—IFJ

AMPATUAN MASSACRE Site, Maguindanao (MindaNews/21 November)—The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has urged President Benigno Aquino III to act swiftly in resolving the Ampatuan Massacre case before his term ends in 2016.

“We have come back and found the snail-pace court proceedings very disheartening,” Mike Dobbie, who led the IFJ mission in 2009, said.

IFJ is among the growing community of international media groups that expressed concern on the slow phase of court proceeding of the Ampatuan Massacre criminal case.

21masaker3INTERNATIONAL CALL. Journalists led by Mike Dobbie of the International Federation of Journalists (standing right) light a candle on the graves of the killed journalists in General Santos City on Nov. 21, 2014. Fifty-eight persons, including 32 media workers, were murdered in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009. MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

On November 23, the 5th anniversary of the gruesome massacre, the South East Asia Press Alliance will also join national media groups in Manila in commemorating the carnage.

November 23 has been declared as the International Day to End Impunity for crimes against journalists.

Dobbie and a team from the IFJ travelled on Friday to accompany the families of the massacre victims to Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao, where 58 persons including 32 journalists, were slaughtered.

The massacre was the single deadliest attack against working journalists anywhere else in the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Dobbie said they hope President Aquino will step in to hasten and bring closure to the massacre case.

“Many of the families are yearning for some closure. They have suffered a lot already,” Dobbie said.

Aquino, who said he too was frustrated in the slow pace of the Ampatuan Massacre case, has ordered Justice Secretary Leila Delima to take over the supervision of the prosecution.

Nonoy Espina, of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, said, however, that President Aquino should do more to fulfill his campaign promise to bring justice to the massacre victims.

“President Aquino won partly on his promise to bring the perpetrators to justice. His administration is coming to an end and yet we do not see any improvement,” Espina said.


JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS. Priests bless the tombstones of the 58 persons who were killed in the Ampatuan Massacre at the site in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao on Nov. 21, 2014.   Filipino journalists and international media groups are clamoring for speedy justice for the Ampatuan Massacre victims.  MindaNews photo by Froilan Gallardo

Fr. Rey Ondap, who led the concelebrated mass at the hilltop where the 58 victims were slaughtered, shared this view.

In his homily, Ondap said he hoped the massacre will not be used politically in the coming 2016 presidential elections.