Malacañang welcomes QC court ruling on Ampatuan massacre case

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Thursday said it welcomes the decision of the Quezon Regional Trial Court which found Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and other members of the political clan guilty of the murder of 57 people in the Ampatuan massacre case.

“The Palace welcomes – as it respects – the decision rendered by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Branch 221 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

“The Court has spoken and rendered its decision on the basis of the evidence presented by both the prosecution and the defense. There were verdicts of guilty and acquittal. It behooves the parties to respect them.

“There are those who view the judgment as justice having prevailed. There are others who have contrary views,” he added.

Panelo said that those who disagree with the court’s judgment “have legal remedies under disposal.”

“Ultimately, it will be the Supreme Court that will give the final judgement. For now, what is important is that the rule of law has prevailed,” he added.

He continued with: “The Maguindanao massacre marks a dark chapter in recent Philippine history that represents merciless disregard for the sacredness of humanity as well as the violent oppression of press freedom. This savage affront to human rights should never have a duplication in this country’s history.”

The QC court on Thursday handed down its decision on the Ampatuan massacre case, which is considered as the worst election-related violence and attack on press freedom in the Philippines.

The gruesome incident that occurred in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009 left 58 people dead, including 32 media personnel, some members of the Mangudadatu family and several civilians.

The ambush happened when they were on their way to a local Commission on Elections office to cover the filing of then gubernatorial bet Esmael Mangudadatu – a political rival of the Ampatuans.

Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his brother Zaldy Ampatuan, the primary accused in the case, were found guilty and sentenced with Reclusion Perpetua without the benefit of parole.

Panelo said that while the promulgation of the 10-year old case is done, “the narrative on the protection of media workers is far from over.”

“The President and the whole of government see this as a constant trial and is therefore still hard at work in building a nation where wanton acts of violence can be prevented so that any intention to threaten our democracy will not prosper event at its inception,” he added.

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