Tesda offers scholarships to kin of Ampatuan massacre victims

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/09 December) — The Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) has offered training scholarships to family members of victims of the gruesome Maguindanao massacre.

TESDA Director General Guiling Mamondiong personally relayed the scholarship assistance, which will be provided through its current programs, in a dialogue here on Thursday with the families of the massacre victims.

“The skills trainings will be granted immediately. We have made the initial arrangements for that,” he said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

Mamondiong said he was sent by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to talk to the families of the massacre victims and look into their plight.

Fifty-eight people, including 32 media workers, were killed in the Nov. 23, 2009 carnage in Sitio Masalay of Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

During the dialogue, family members of the victims expressed disappointment with the “slow-moving trial” of the case, especially against its masterminds led by members of the Ampatuan family of Maguindanao.

Some spouses of the victims raised their difficult situation, especially in terms of sending their children to school.

The families of the victims, especially the media workers’, received financial assistance from various government and non-government groups after the incident but they acknowledged that most were not able to manage them properly.

Mamondiong said the results of the dialogue will serve as basis for the government, especially the President, in deciding the appropriate interventions for the families of the massacre victims.

He said what happened in the past is no longer important as nothing will happen by blaming anybody.

“We’re after the interventions or assistance that you need and what we can provide to sustain your daily lives,” he said.

The official assured that the President is fully supporting their calls for speedy trial and the resolution of the cases against the suspects.

“We can only give justice to those victims if the process will be expedited, through speedy trial and early decision of the cases,” he said.

Grace Morales, who lost her husband Rossel in the massacre, said they were surprised and very happy with the President’s initiative to have a dialogue through an emissary.

She said they have been planning to seek a meeting with Duterte to air their concerns and sentiments.

“Our hopes were renewed and it’s very encouraging to know that our government is concerned with our plight,” said Morales, who is secretary general of the Justice Now Movement.

The group is composed of family members of the slain media workers.

On Nov. 23, 2009, the victims were on their way to Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao to file the certificate of candidacy of then Buluan vice mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu for governor when their convoy was waylaid.

Around 100 gunmen allegedly headed by former Datu Unsay, Maguindanao Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. herded them off to a hilly portion of Masalay where they were brutally killed.

Mangudadatu was spared from the massacre after he sent his wife Genalyn and several female family members to file his candidacy. The media workers were part of the convoy to cover the filing. (MindaNews)