Families of Ampatuan Massacre victims want court to set date of decision

AFTER THE Supreme Court granted the plea of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to extend promulgation of a decision on the Ampatuan Massacre by 30 days, families of the victims are now demanding the court to set the date.

“On the 10th year anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre, the kin of the victims, as represented by The Center for International Law (CenterLaw), filed a Manifestation at the Quezon City RTC Branch 221 today requesting the court to set the date of promulgation of its decision in accordance with the 30-day extension granted by the Supreme Court,” said Aileen Garcia, program officer of CenterLaw, in an email sent to media outlets Friday, eve of the 10th year anniversary of the massacre.

The deadline for the promulgation of a decision was supposed to be Nov. 20, or three days before the anniversary. But Solis-Reyes, citing the voluminous records and evidence she need to consider, asked for a 30-day extension.

On Nov. 8, the Supreme Court, after finding Solis-Reyes’s request “reasonable,” granted the extension, thus moving the deadline to Dec. 20. The high tribunal noted that it was “non-extendible.”

The families’ counsel reminded the RTC judge to “also take into consideration the feelings of continuing anguish felt by the Private Complainants for every single day that passes without justice being served to their family members.”

Fifty-eight people, including 32 media workers, perished in the country’s worst election-related violence and the world’s deadliest single attack against media workers.

Relatives visited the massacre site on Sunday, Nov. 17.

Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, whose wife Genalyn and several female family members were among the victims, did not complain on the extension, expressing confidence anew they could get a conviction particularly for the principal suspects.

“We have waited for 10 years. Thirty days is shorter than 10 years of waiting. I’m sure there is a plausible reason on the request and we yield to the wisdom of the Supreme Court in approving it,” he told MindaNews in a text message.

He said they are “still keep[ing] the faith” that the court would convict the suspects.

The principal suspects include former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., who died from an illness while in custody, and his sons Zaldy, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; Andal Jr., former mayor of Datu Unsay town; and Sajid, former Maguindanao vice governor. (MindaNews)