Yesterday’s guilty verdict against the perpetrators of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre may have brought some measure of closure to what has been called the worst episode of political violence in Philippine history, but even after 10 years, the details of the brutal killings contained in the historic judgment still have the power to shock.
The court’s verdict against members of the Ampatuan political clan and their accomplices — who murdered 58 people on their way to observe the filing for candidacy of one of the family’s political rivals — shows that least three female victims of the mass killing were sexually assaulted and shot at close range, Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes’ 761-page ruling revealed.
Based on the autopsy report provided by the Philippine National Police (PNP), the women’s bodies “tested positive for the presence of semen.”
Meanwhile, the autopsy of victim Bai Eden Mangudadatu, sister of Ampatuan rival Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, revealed that she had sustained a “gunshot wound in her genitalia.”
The decision also notes that majority of the massacre’s 57 confirmed victims (one body was never recovered) suffered multiple gunshot wounds at close range.
“The location of the wounds were in the head, neck, chest region, trunk or abdomen, lower back, extremities, and genitals,” it reads.
Meanwhile, Maria Reynafe Castillo — the daughter of the massacre’s only unrecovered victim, Reynaldo Momay — said that the court’s ruling had left her and her family without closure.
“Do you know how it feels to have no closure?” Castillo told ABS-CBN News yesterday. Reynaldo was a photographer for local newspaper Midland Review, and save for a set of dentures that were believed to be his, the photojournalist’s remains were not among the 57 bodies dug up in the mass graves.
“My father’s body was never been found. After this, yes, we may or may not get the justice we want,” she added. “You know, if only the perpetrators will show remorse, somehow that will reduce the weight.”
PNP officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Archie Gamboa vowed after the verdict on Thursday to redouble efforts to arrest the Maguindanao case’s 80 suspects who still remain at large, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
“This triumph of justice sends a strong message that the majesty of the law does not bow to the rich and powerful,” he said in a statement.
PNP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Bernard Banac said Gamboa had reached out to at least three PNP units to launch a manhunt for the missing accused.
Banac added that they are monitoring the activities of known supporters of the Ampatuan clan and proceeding with caution.
“Considering the nature of their crime and their continued flight from justice, we presume these fugitives to be armed and dangerous,” he said.
This article, Victims of Maguindanao Massacre raped, shot in genitalia: court ruling, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!