Follow us for updates
© 2020
Read the Story →

11 Years After Maguindanao Massacre, Orphans Still Cry for Justice

Never forget. It's been 11 years.
by Ara Eugenio
Just now

Eleven years after the Maguindanao Massacre shocked the world and a year since members of the powerful Ampatuan clan were convicted over the world's worst single attack on the press, its orphans and their lawyers said the case remains "unresolved."

The victims' families appealed the case to reverse the acquittal of some 40 co-conspirators, increase the P300,000 award for each of the families and recognize the 58th victim, said one of the victims' longtime counsels, Nena Santos.

For the daughter of the 58th victim unrecognized in the case, Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay, it is a fight for recognition as it is about justice. Only his dentures were found in the crime scene.

"For me, to forget is not an option. It is never an option and it will never be an option. Let us remember, the 58th victim was my father," said Reynafe "Nenen" Momay-Castillo.

"I remember how I fought with the other victims even if I did not find the body of my father. I respected the decision, but I do not stand behind the fact that it left out justice for my father," she said.

Continue reading below ↓

On Nov. 23, 2009, members of the Ampatuan clan and their private army ambushed a convoy of their political rival, the Mangudadatus as they were on their way to file an election challenge. The victims were shot multiple times, some in their genitals, and were buried in a hilltop grave using a backhoe or excavator.

Since the massacre, the backhoe has symbolized the massacre and the impunity with which journalists are killed in the Philippines, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for members of media.


"We Will Keep Fighting," Says Maria Ressa, Convicted for Cyber Libel

Why is ABS-CBN Trending During Super Typhoon Rolly?

It's case far from closed

The UNESCO has reversed its classification of the Maguindanao Massacre to unresolved upon the request of stakeholders.

"The case is still unresolved because it is still on appeal. Until the final decision of the Supreme Court on the matter is promulgated and released, that’s the only time we can say that the case is finally resolved," said lawyer Nena Santos.

Continue reading below ↓

"Parang lumabas ay okay lang pala mag massacre kayo kasi yung civil damages nyo, kapiranggut lang. Walang pinagkaiba yung isa lang pumatay at maraming biktima sa maraming pumatay at maraming biktima," she said.

Aside from those 43 convicted, 76 suspects of the massacre are still at large, she said. The decisions promulgated in December 2019 were part of the "first wave" of complaints that sought convictions for the principal accused and the accessories to the crime.

The second batch includes those who participated in cover-ups, those who tried shutting witnesses up, and some policemen present in the massacre site and also used their guns. 

It's about press freedom

For Nenen Momay-Castillo, her years-long fight to give justice to her father is also a fight to defend press freedom. Standing up for free speech as a right is every citizen's duty, she said.

Families of the victims have fought not only in the courts but also on the ground were they are left to deal with the loss of breadwinners. As they nurse their emotional and psychological wounds, they are also left scrambling for sources of income as donations eventually dried up.

Continue reading below ↓


Why Are Some Foodpanda Riders Protesting?

From Cory to Kamala: Women Breaking Glass Ceilings Explained

Many time they were tempted with bribes to keep silent or drop the fight. These fell on deaf ears.

"Paulit-ulit kong sinabi sa kanila na kapag kinuha natin yung pera, wala na ring ng hustisya," said Nenen to fellow families left behind. 

"Pabalik-balik yung mga emisaryo kasi baka pwede na, pwede nang bayaran. How long will we be able to sustain this because the daily needs would come into play," said lawyer Rick Cachuela in a documentary produced by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in 2011. 

Santos, the orphans' lawyer, said the appeal includes a petition for three prosecutors to inhibit. This will allow fresh eyes to look into the case.

She is also warry about the presence in Malacanang of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, a former lawyer of the Ampatuan clan, though Panelo had repeatedly said that he would not influence the case.

Continue reading below ↓
Latest Headlines
Read Next
Recent News
The news. So what? Subscribe to the newsletter that explains what the news means for you.
The email address you entered is invalid.
Thank you for signing up to On Three, reportr's weekly newsletter delivered to your mailbox three times a week. Only the latest, most useful and most insightful reads.
By signing up to newsletter, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.