Massacre victims will get justice — lawmaker

A MINDANAO congressman yesterday expressed optimism that justice will be served at the conclusion of the 10-year court battle of the Ampatuan Massacre, dubbed the world’s deadliest attack on journalists, to provide peace to the families of the victims of the gruesome crime.

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, who lost his wife and two of his sisters in the killings, is praying for the conviction of all 197 accused in the case, despite 80 of the respondents remaining at large to this date.

“I pray that justice be rightfully served so that complete healing and forgiveness can finally set in. My heart and prayers also goes to the families who lost their loved ones in the tragedy. Like them, there was never a day that goes by that I don’t think about those who perished. I share their grief,” said Mangudadatu.

According to Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the Department of Justice (DoJ) experts judgment to be rendered before the 10th anniversary of the infamous massacre.

He also said that the prosecution panel has presented more than sufficient evidence to warrant a conviction, at least of the principal accused in the case.

All parties involved in the case had until yesterday, August 15, to submit their respective memoranda or final position paper before the verdict can be issued. Coincidentally, Mangudadatu’s birthday was yesterday.

“While many of the families have gone weary and disenchanted that they will ever see justice, I, for one, believe that deliverance is in the offing. I have faith that God will hear our pleas and that we will receive the justice we have been searching for all these years. This has been my birthday wish today,” he quipped.

Out of the 58 victims, 32 were media practitioners who were covering the filing of certificate of candidacy of Mangudadatu, then vice mayor of Buluan, against Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of the then incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.