Remembering the Maguindanao Massacre
A full two years after a political massacre in the southern Philippines became the single worst slaying of journalists in the world, about half of the nearly 200 suspects remain at large.
Leaders of a politically powerful clan and several of their lieutenants have been put on trial over the attack — an ambush of a convoy and the slayings of at least 58 political opponents and media workers. But the proceedings have moved at a snail’s pace, frustrating relatives of the victims.
The government assured relatives of the victims that it would do all it can to give them justice and punish all the suspects. But while the government has taken steps to hasten the prosecution, it has suffered delays because of numerous legal tactics by the suspects’ lawyers in a judiciary notorious for a huge number of backlog cases.
There were also reports that the suspects’ emissaries were also offering money to some relatives in exchange for dropping the case. Amnesty International also has quoted other relatives with similar allegations.
To speed up hearings, private prosecutor Harry Roque has recommended trimming the number of defendants from 196 to just 35 to focus on those who were primarily responsible for the planning and killing two years ago of 57 people, mostly media workers.He said the other defendants could be charged with lesser offenses.
A Catholic bishop also dared the government to apply to the case the same speed it demonstrated in pursuing criminal charges against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.