Senators lauded the guilty verdict handed down against several members of the influential Ampatuan clan involved in the massacre of 57 people – including 31 members of the media, in Maguindanao in 2009.
“Justice won today,” Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto said in a short statement.
Senator Joel Villanueva said the decision “restores faith in the justice system” as he praised Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221.
“I salute Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes for her dedication and her courage to stand for what is right and just,” he said.
“We hope that our authorities continue to account for the other accused who have yet to be arrested and tried,” Villanueva said.
For Senator Francis Tolentino, the attainment of justice “shows that faith and vigilance in the judicial system is a primordial norm of a civilized society.”
“While the penalty may be wanting for some, lets us hope that this will never happen again,” he said.
Senator Imee Marcos said the guilty verdict against the principal accused is a victory for justice.
“Bagamat masasabing napakailap ng hustisya dahil na rin sa tagal ng paglilitis, ang promulgasyon na isinagawa ngayon ay positibong aksyon para sa mga biktima at sa kalaunan ay tuluyang mapanagot ang iba pang akusado sa Maguindanao massacre (While it can be said that justice may have been elusive due to the length of the trial, today’s promulgation is a positive action for the victims and, ultimately, towards bringing the other accused to justice),” she said in a statement.
“Nais din natin bigyan ng diin na ang pagkakapaslang sa 32 journalists noong Nobyembre 23, 2009, ay isang patunay na ang karahasan para supilin ang malayang pamamahayag, kaylan man, ay hindi magtatagumpay (We also want to stress that the slaying of the 32 journalists is proof that the violent suppression of press freedom will never ever succeed),” Marcos said.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the verdict is the first step toward healing and justice.
“I am glad that this decision finally saw the light of day, and the truth is this decision should have come sooner. The world has waited 10, long years, and finally, we have taken the first step towards healing, accountability, and justice,” she said in a statement
She said the next step should be to work toward the greater goal of “ending the lawless violence perpetrated by political dynasties” who only want to cling to power and look after their own self-interest.
“We must ensure the success of the BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) and that the Philippines stops becoming a dangerous place for members of the press, or for anyone exercising their democratic rights. The road to justice ends when we ensure that any similar attack on the free press and our democratic rights never happens again,” Hontiveros said.
The Quezon City court earlier found Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan and other members of the clan guilty of murder “beyond reasonable doubt” in the worst election-related violence in the country and one of the deadliest attacks against journalists in the world.
However, the court acquitted Sajid Islam Ampatuan and Datu Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan Sr. and several police officers accused in the case due to reasonable doubt.
Originally there were 58 victims in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre, but the 58th victim, Reynaldo Momay, a local media photographer, was declared “missing” when only the bodies of the 57 other victims were discovered at the crime scene. (PNA)