By Baretang Bikolnon Staff
Trial on the Ampatuan Massacre may be resolved in 2018 according to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP).
NUJP said in a statement that they have been informed there are only three more principal accused still to present their witnesses.
“We have been informed that with only three more principal accused In the massacre trial still to present their witnesses, it would be reasonable to hope for a resolution by next year. We do hope so and pray it will be a triumph for justice. However, the numbers do not offer too much reason for optimism,” Dabet Panelo, NUJP Secretary-General, stated.
Of the 198 suspects in the massacre, only 115 have been arrested and 112 have been arraigned. Four of those arrested have died in the course of the proceedings, including primary suspect Datu Andal Ampatuan, Sr.
Out of the 112, 70 were allowed by the court to post bail, including Ampatuan Sr.’s youngest son, Sajid Islam Uy Ampatuan, who was freed in 2015 after posting P11.6-million bail.
“This number also included 17 police officers who were allowed by the court to post bail because of weak evidence,” Panelo said.
As of July 11, 2017, 102 of the accused remained in detention, including main suspects former Datu Unsay town mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr.; former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao governor Zaldy Ampatuan; and Chief Insp. Sukarno Dicay, police chief of the 15th Regional Mobile Group that was conducting the checkpoint when the incident happened.
Eight years already but justice remains elusive since November 23, 2009 when gunmen took the lives of 58 persons, including 32 media workers on a hilltop in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
It was the worst incident of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the deadliest single attack on the press ever according to NUJP.
NUJP added that journalists continue to be murdered with impunity. The total to date—and much as we hope for the opposite, all indications are the toll will keep on mounting—is 178 since 1986, the last five killed in the year and a half since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.
The country observes November 23 as the International Day to End Impunity in the Philippines because of massacre.
Another hearing is scheduled at Camp Bagong Diwa today where some victims’ families are expected to attend, along with representatives from the NUJP, the Southeast Asia Press Alliance and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility. (BaretangBikolnon.com)