Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu is optimistic of an initial judgment this year for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre as wished by President Rodrigo Duterte.
“We look forward to that. We fought this battle the legal way because we believe that the court is the only venue where we can seek redress,” he said on Thursday, June 21.
Mangudadatu’s wife, his two sisters, and several other relatives were included among the 58 people killed in the attack.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, on Tuesday, June 20, said that Duterte is hoping for an initial conviction on the case.
According to him, Duterte has directed the Department of Justice to exhaust its finest in securing partial court ruling on the massacre case.
Roque also went on to say that the justice department is doing its best in handling the case, which is being litigated by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 221 in Quezon City.
Kampilan Press Corps, whose members include trained peace and conflict-sensitive journalists covering the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, and other media blocs in Maguindanao were happy with the pronouncement.
The 58 people who perished in the massacre were on their way to the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao to file there for Mangudadatu his candidacy for governor in the May 2010 elections when they were flagged down by gunmen, positioned along the highway, and killed using machine guns and assault rifles.
The gunmen were allegedly led by leaders of the Ampatuan family, who led the province then.
Ampatuan, Jr. is now detained, being prosecuted for his alleged involvement in the killings.
Five months after the gruesome and tragic incident, Mangudadatu was elected governor of Maguindanao. He got re-elected in 2013 and 2016 provincial elections.
“My clan is a noble Moro warrior clan. Our ancestors were datus who fought the Spaniards, the Americans and the Japanese in the 1940s. That massacre was a slap on our faces but we managed our tempers and did not retaliate because we believe in the integrity of the judiciary,” Mangudadatu said.
Mangudadatu, on Thursday, shared that he, too, dreams of witnessing the conviction of the culprits before his term ends on June 30, 2019. He is now on his third and last term as Maguindanao provincial governor.