Light at the end of the tunnel

November 22,2018 - 10:53 PM

News that a court ruling will soon be issued on the Ampatuan massacre which marks its ninth anniversary today brings both a sense of hope and relief to the families of the victims in particular and to the Filipino people.

Acting Prosecutor General Richard Anthony Fadulton told reporters last Monday that the case “is now submitted for ruling” after the lawyers of Datu Andal Unsay (Ampatuan Jr.) finalized their submission of evidence for the case and the ruling may come in a matter of days, weeks or it may even be issued today.

To the media community and those who either followed the case since Day One or simply want justice to prevail for the
victims, the prosecution of the Ampatuan Massacre suspects had been a long and arduous journey, one in which the late senator Joker Arroyo warned would last 200 years.

Consider the work load: 166 witnesses for the prosecution and 107 witnesses for the defense or 273 witnesses to be cross-examined, 15 sets of former offers of evidence in connection for the bail applications of the 70 persons accused, who are part of the 197 respondents including the prime suspect Datu Unday Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.

The nine-year trial had supposedly produced transcripts of stenographic notes worth 59 volumes, 129 volumes of records for the case and 10 volumes of the prosecution’s evidence.

At the outset, one can only hope that all of that hard work and long delays will produce a ruling that will serve justice to the
families of the victims, who had to spend a better part of the decade attending rallies and sharing their stories of loss and pain to those who cared enough to listen.

And there are those who not only cared enough to do so but have kept the fires of remembrance, of the memories of anguish that these families have endured these past years through mainstream and social media.

Long after the 58 victims, including 32 media practitioners and women, were raped, shot dead and buried by the 100 armed men alleged to be a part of a private army of the late Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., the collective stench of their remains continue to linger and haunt those responsible for the crime.

We join others in hoping that a court ruling is on the way for the families of both the victims and the accused on the Ampatuan massacre if only to provide some light at the end of what had been another ignominious chapter in the country’s bloody election history.

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