Cabaero: Loss of earning capacity

Nini Cabaero

PART of the court’s decision that found Ampatuan clan members guilty for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre was the award of amounts to cover the victims’ loss of earning capacity.

Of the 58 persons massacred in Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009, 32 were media workers who belonged to small print and broadcast communities of General Santos, Koronadal City and nearby areas, a report of a fact-finding team said. They were reporters, correspondents and production people.

The Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 ruled Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, that brothers Andal Jr. “Datu Unsay,” Zaldy and Anwar Ampatuan Sr. as well as five other members of the powerful Ampatuan clan were guilty of 57 counts of murder in relation to the 2009 Maguindanao massacre and sentenced them to reclusion perpetua without parole.

The decision said 20 others were also convicted and meted the same penalty. All 28 were also ordered to pay damages of P155.594 million jointly and severally to the heirs of the victims.

The payment of damages would include the loss of earning capacity of the victims.

The heirs of Joel Parcon who was among the 32 media workers killed would receive P350,000 in damages and P4 million for loss of earning capacity. The family of Napoleon Salaysay of Clear View Gazette would get P350,000 in damages and P2.25 million for loss of earning capacity. And so on for the heirs of each victim.

Will they get paid? They should get paid to help them move on after the sudden death of the family breadwinner.

A Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) report last Dec. 16 said the Ampatuans own close to five million square meters of property scattered throughout Maguindanao, Cotabato, Davao and even in ritzy Dasmariñas Village in Makati, according to records in the Manila RTC Branch 22 where there is a pending civil forfeiture case against the Ampatuan properties.

The report at pcij.org said the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), a government super body tasked with investigating suspicious bank transactions and money laundering activities, secured a provisional asset preservation order or a freeze order from the RTC Branch 22 against all known Ampatuan properties.

The freeze order covers 224 bank accounts, 77 vehicles, 110 firearms, and 161 pieces of real properties allegedly owned or controlled by Andal Ampatuan Sr.’s branch of the clan. The order prohibits the sale, transfer, or disposition of these properties while the court hears the civil forfeiture case filed by the AMLC against the Ampatuan clan’s assets.

The listing of assets shows the economic clout of the clan and their capability to pay the families for the loss of earning capacity of their massacred loved ones.

The Ampatuans are expected to appeal their murder conviction but authorities should work at helping the families get compensation. Payment to the heirs should happen as part of the justice they deserved.