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Ampatuan massacre: still no justice

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Time really flies fast. It’s eight years since the powerful Ampatuan clan and their henchmen were charged for the gruesome murder of 58 people, 38 of whom were journalists and media workers, in Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao and the trial of the case has not been completed and, as such, no conviction has been made for the perpetrators of the massacre which the world has described as the worst mass killing of journalists.

 

One of those killed was Alejandro “Bong” Reblando, a former Associated Press reporter who was a Manila Bulletin correspondent at the time of his death. Reblando was a colleague of our Philippines Today editor in chief who was then also a senior editor of Manila Bulletin who had served as president of the National Press Club of the Philippines. Ironically, Reblando and other journalists had accompanied our editor in chief in meetings with Filipino journalists in the United States and in the renewal of the NPC’s reciprocity agreement with the National Press Club of the United States in Washington DC as they took pride in the press freedom that they enjoy in the Philippines. Reblando’s family received threats after the charges were filed against the leaders and members of the Ampatuan clan and some 150 others.

 

As the world and media groups continue to monitor the Ampatuan massacre trial, President Rodrigo Duterte personally attended to the case as he summoned surviving relatives of the victims as well as officials to a dialogue in Malacanang where the Chief Executive provided support and promised the end of the trial soon during his administration. The President, at the same time, instructed officials to ensure that justice is met for the massacre victims. The President’s action came as even relatives of the victims have died waiting for justice for their loved ones. Indeed, only a presidential directive and a tough action by President Duterte could speed up the case as indicated by the relatives of the victims, one of whom is the current governor of Maguindanao,  Ismael Mangudadatu, whose wife and several relatives were among those massacred. Otherwise, another eight years may pass and the world will still be crying for justice.

 

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