Today is the third anniversary of the infamous Manguindanao massacre where 58 innocent civilians were killed by the then-ruling Ampatuan clan led by Andal and Zaldy Ampatuan, mayor of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao and governor of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
The massacre happened during the midst of the filling of certificate of candidacy for the candidates of then-upcoming 2010 elections. The then-Buluan vice mayor, Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, the current Maguindanao governor and relative of the Ampatuan clan invited 37 journalists to cover his filling of his certificate of candidacy as Maguindanao governor candidate against Andal Ampatuan, Jr., Datu Unsay mayor and son of then-governor Andal, Sr..
While Toto was waiting for the six convoys that contains the 37 journalists and his wife, the massacre happened, just 10 km away from Shariff Aguak, the provincial capital and the location where Toto was going to file his certificate of candidacy wherein the convoy was stopped by 100 armed men who abducted and later killed most or all of its members.
The abductors had to use a backhoe to bury the 58 victims including 34 journalists, Toto’s wife, Genalyn, and the vehicles. The perpetrators were not able to complete the job when a helicopter was spotted in the area. The backhoe, emblazoned with the name of Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., was later identified to belong to the Maguindanao provincial government.
In the aftermath of the incident, then-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared martial law in whole province of Maguindanao to restore law and order and to give the police and military forces a flex muscle to arrest the perpetrators like Andal Sr, Andal Jr, and Zaldy.
At least 198 suspects, including Andal Ampatuan Jr. and Andal Ampatuan Sr. and several other members of the Ampatuan clan, have been charged with murder. In April 2010, the government dropped murder charges against Zaldy Ampatuan and Akhmad Ampatuan who had presented alibis. This led to protests by family members of the victims.
As of 23 November 2011, two years after the massacre, only Andal Sr. and his son Andal Jr. had been charged, and some 100 of the 197 persons listed on the charge sheet were still unaccounted for.
The aftermath of the incident was really devastating and probably the scars of the incident will remain forever as our judicial system cannot even tried the perpetrators, let alone giving the justice for the victims of that massacre. The Maguindanao massacre case is one of the signs of the crawling judicial system in our country as cases especially involving prominent persons will have to take years to resolve the case and give the verdict to the perpetrators as the perpetrators through their lawyers would make any excuses and technicalities for their clients to evade conviction like using “health reasons” as an excuse for the perpetrators of not attending the trial.
I only give my prediction that the trial will take years to resolve and probably even the perpetrators will die someday, the case will be still unresolved that would make the case a moot therefore, no justice will be served for the victims of the massacre due to our crawling justice system.