Ampatuans guilty but fight against impunity not yet over

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines welcomes the court decision convicting the culprits behind the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.

“The conditions which paved way for the brutal Ampatuan massacre continue to exist especially with the worsening culture of impunity in the country. Today we are a step ahead in our fight against impunity with the guilty verdict,” said CEGP National President Daryl Angelo Baybado.

Of the 197 accused in the 2009 Ampatuan massacre, 101 went on trial. In total, the prosecution presented 134 witnesses. The defense presented 165 witnesses. Today, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 has declared the Ampatuan clan guilty of multiple murder in Ampatuan Massacre, killing 58 people, 32 of whom were journalists and media workers. However, 50 accused, including members of the Ampatuan clan — Datu Akmad Tato, Datu Sajid Islam, Jonathan, and Jimmy Ampatuan — have been acquitted of murder charges.

This conviction comes after more than a decade of mounting pressure from local and international media organizations, including supports from various groups. The long-awaited bittersweet decision is the result of hard work and dedication of all the victims’ families and press freedom fighters, all in the pursuit of truth and justice.

“Today we join the families of the victims and the Filipino people in triumph for justice. In our country bereft of it for too long, may the verdict send a message to everyone that the oppressed can fight, stand and triumph against those who abuse their powers,” said Baybado.

The Guild vows to continue the call for justice for all the victims of impunity and the intensifying fascism under the very desperate Duterte administration. The conviction for the Ampatuan massacre perpetrators is an example of how the Filipino people will fight for justice for all state-perpetrated violence and ultimately, to end impunity.

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