Guilty verdict vs principal suspects in Maguindanao Massacre cause for celebration — Egco

Guilty verdict.

MANILA—A ranking Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) official on Thursday said the conviction of the principal suspects in the Maguindanao massacre is a most welcome development, a cause for celebration.

Undersecretary Jose Joel Sy Egco, PTFoMs executive director, said the Quezon City court’s verdict is “a cause for celebration for those who value press freedom, freedom of expression and human rights.”

The massacre is believed to be the world’s worst killings of journalists in history where at least 32 media workers were murdered in one single day.

Egco called on Filipinos “to remember that of the 58 people who were killed, 32 were media workers” even as he noted that the case has come to be “widely regarded as the deadliest single-day attack on journalists in the world, as well as the worst election-related case of violence in recent Philippine history”.

He said: “there is no way in objective terms can anyone claim that there is a ’culture of impunity’ in this country.”

“Let me reiterate that the real heroes in this are the families of the 58 victims, the prosecution witnesses, the government and private prosecutors,” he added.

In a previous statement, Egco predicted that it will take “the political will of a Duterte Administration to finally see this through its logical conclusion” and it will be considered “a part of the Duterte Legacy.”

On Thursday, more than 10 years since the massacre, the principal suspects in the case, including Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. alias ‘Unsay’, were found guilty by Branch 221 Presiding Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City.

PCOO’s Andanar

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said he initially “predicted that this is the only way the judgment should go.”

“As I’ve said before, criminals who murder or in any way endanger journalists in this part of the world will not go unpunished. This is justice. It was admittedly a slow process but we have to go through it as warranted by our democratic system,” said Andanar, also PTFoMS co-chairperson.

On Nov. 23, 2009, at least 58 were killed in Maguindanao province while en route to Shariff Aguak to file the certificate of candidacy of then Buluan vice mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.

The PNA report also said the victims included 32 media workers, six passersby, two lawyers, and the wife and sisters of Mangudadatu. (IAMIGO/CNS)


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