According to a lawyer of the victims’ families on Monday, prosecutors formally charged only eight out of 48 more Maguindanao massacre suspects in the second wave of complaints filed with the Department of Justice.
Lawyer Nena Santos said two Ampatuans and six others were indicted before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.
Last year, the same court found a number of members of the Ampatuan clan and many police officers guilty of multiple murder over the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
DOJ dismissed the charges against 40 respondents in the second wave of complaints. Santos was dismayed over the decision, adding only the prosecutors only had three paragraphs explaining the dismissal’s legal basis.
“The fight is not yet over,” Santos said Monday.
In December 2019, former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., the alleged leader of the killing force, and former Autonomous Region in Ex-Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan were found guilty of killing 58 victims in one of the most violent crimes in the country, the Maguindanao massacre.
Looking back at the Maguindanao massacre
Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu invited journalists to cover the scheduled filing of his certificate of candidacy (COC) at the Commission on Elections provincial office in Shariff Aguak. He said reports had reached him that his rivals had threatened to chop him into pieces once he filed his COC and felt the presence of journalists would deter such an attack.
A local report stated that at about 5:00 PM, a convoy of six vehicles carrying journalists, lawyers, and relatives of Vice Mayor Mangudadatu left Buluan to file his COC at the Comelec office in Shariff Aguak. The convoy was composed of six vehicles: four Toyota Grandia vans (one grey, one green, and two white) owned by the Mangudadatu family; and two media vehicles. A seventh vehicle, a Grandia, boarded by mediamen, but it lagged and decided to turn around once the passengers sensed what was happening. Two other vehicles were not part of the convoy but happened to be traveling on the same highway.
Before reaching its destination (about 10 km from Shariff Aguak, four on other versions), the convoy was stopped by 100 armed men, who abducted and later killed most or all of its members. There is evidence that at least five female victims, four of them journalists, were raped before being killed, while “practically all” of the women had been shot in their genitals. Mangudadatu’s youngest sister and aunt were both pregnant at the time of their murders.
In a text message sent by Mangudadatu’s wife to him, she identified the people that blocked their way as the men of Ampatuan Jr. and that he slapped her.
An excavator (manufactured by CAT) located near the carnage at Ampatuan town was identified as the instrument used to dig the graves of the victims two days beforehand and then bury them, including the vehicles. The perpetrators could not complete the job when a military helicopter was spotted circling above the excavation area. The excavator, emblazoned with the name of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., was later identified to belong to the Maguindanao provincial government.