Kin of Maguindanao massacre victims hopeful of conviction
MAGUINDANAO VISIT. Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar (right) answers questions from reporters at the Maguindanao Massacre site in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Thursday (Nov. 22). Looking on is Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu (2nd from right) and Presidential Task Force on Media Security Undersecretary Joel Egco. (Photo by Edwin Fernandez)

AMPATUAN, Maguindanao – The families of victims of the infamous 2009 Maguindanao massacre are patiently waiting for the dispensation of justice and are hopeful of the conviction of principal suspects soon.

On Thursday, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar and PCOO Undersecretary Joel Egco of the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) visited the grave site and offered prayers, as well as gave hope to the kin of massacre victims.

Both Andanar and Egco told Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu about the possibility of promulgation of the case by January or February next year.

Several of the families, according to lawyer Nina Santos, private counsel for relatives of the journalists who perished in the country’s bloodiest election-related violence, were also at the massacre site to remember their loved ones.

“They are not losing hope. Justice will soon be attained,” Santos said in an interview with newsmen.

On Nov. 23, 2009, 58 persons, including 33 journalists, were mercilessly killed by gunmen led by then-mayor Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr. in Barangay Masalay here.

Mangudadatu, who lost his wife and four other relatives in the massacre, remains optimistic that Datu Unsay would be convicted because all the witnesses have already been presented.

“Hopefully, justice will be served,” Andanar told Mangudadatu.

Egco, meanwhile, said he expects nothing less than a guilty verdict for the culprits. “Finally, now, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel,” the PTFoMS head said.

Mangudadatu joined the two Malacañang officials and relatives of the journalists who died in the incident, in offering prayers for the dead. They also prayed for the early handing down of a decision by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.

The governor lauded Andanar, Egco and President Rodrigo Duterte for their visit to Maguindanao.

“Andanar was the highest Malacañang communications official to set foot in the massacre site,” he said. “We shall be forever grateful to President Duterte.”

Santos said a group of journalists from Gen. Santos City and Koronadal City were supposed to visit the massacre site on Friday morning but most of the activities related to the commemoration of the carnage would take place in Gen. Santos City. (PNA)