Relatives of Maguindanao massacre victims continue to fight for justice
The relatives of the 58 victims of the Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao continue to fight for justice, 12 years after the horrible crime that also killed 32 journalists.
In a virtual forum to commemorate the Maguindanao massacre, Former Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said after many years, the relatives of the victims have not yet received any compensation from the Ampatuan family.
"It is not yet finished because there is still a pending appeal and the claims and damages were not yet provided to the victims. Because the claims are damages, it will depend on the result of the appeal. We pray that although the hearing reaches 10 years, we hope that the result for the appeal will not take another 10 years," he said in a virtual press conference.
"I think two years after the conviction or a year and half after the conviction, within the year we hope within two years, this appeal will end because what is important is the concept of reparation,'' said Roque.
QC Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes convicted more than 40 persons, including the masterminds, to reclusion perpetua.
Presidential Communications Undersecretary Joel Sy Egco told dzBB that 80 suspects are being pursued.
''There is a decision that the Ampatuans (are) really guilty of the crime and the reparation includes the claims and damages which should be provided to the victims as part of their rights," he added.
In a video message, Ma. Reynafe Castillo, daughter of photojournalist Reynaldo Momay, said "losing is relative to each one of us (relatives of the massacre victims) but seeking justice is one and the same. Justice deals not with the pain of loss anymore but the peace of knowing that it is served."
Momay's body was never found.
"Year after year every November 23rd I am forced to understand my own loss telling myself that everyday I get to live, I also get to live to fight. I will fight in order to move forward. Being able to forward is to stay (in the) process of finding justice for my father, Reynaldo 'Bebot' Momay. This process became my own race track, which I must go over and over again until I get to my destination and that is to make someone accountable for my father’s death for a daughter’s loss," she said.
"With more than two decades, two presidents have already ended their terms of office, and up to now, I am still the daughter of the 58th victim of the Maguindanao Massacre... what I’m doing now is to fight forward,” she added.
Roque also noted the need to reform the criminal justice system in the country as he proposed that in a criminal case where police authorities fail to investigate, the courts of law can legally empower the victim or surviving families to intervene and gather evidence.
"Ten years of hearings is unacceptable. There is a need to have a wide reform in our criminal justice system. Let us go back to what we call the inquisitorial system where the judge will gather the evidence and they will not wait for the lawyers to present the evidence. What we use now is adversarial system it comes from America and England," he said.
Roque said reparations for victims who lost their lives should not be lower than P1 million.
"The P10,000 given to the families of the victims is unrealistic. At the very least, they deserve to get the minimum amount of compensation for loss of life as recognized by the courts of law," he said.
"The State, for failing its duty to safeguard the life of a citizen from criminal elements, should be bound to compensate for such loss or harm. The government can set up a system similar to that of Trust Fund for Victims of the International Criminal Court (ICC) that assists victims of crime through reparations and psychological support among others,” he added. Robina Asido/DMS