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Maguindanao massacre case gaining pace

The families of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre may soon gain the justice they’ve been fervently hoping seven years after the crime was committed.

The Supreme Court (SC), through its public information office (PIO), released yesterday an update of the case, stating that the trial being done at the Quezon City regional trial court (RTC) can now be considered halfway through.

“From those arraigned, only 106 accused remain on trial before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 221,” said the SC statement “As of Nov. 23, 2016, the court has already heard a total of 232 witnesses: 131 prosecution witnesses, 58 private complainants, and 43 defense witnesses.”

At least 189 suspects have been linked to the carnage which happened November 23, 2009, with many of them already detained and facing trial. Among those jailed were Ampatuan Jr., his brothers Zaldy, who was the former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor, and Sajid, the former officer-in-charge/governor of Maguindanao.

Their father former Maguindanao governor Andal Sr. was among the first to be detained for the crime, but died in 2015. Sajid has been released on bail.

“All bail proceedings having been resolved (except for accused Ampatuan Jr.), the proceedings are already now at the stage of presentation of the evidence-in-chief,” added the SC statement “The prosecution is no longer presenting evidence in the main cases against 103 of the accused subject of the six batches of FOEs it has already filed in Court.”

All the 58 victims, 32 of them local media workers intending to cover the supposed filing of Esmael Mangudadatu’s candidacy, were shot execution-style, investigations said.

The bodies of some female victims, including Mangudadatu’s pregnant wife Ginalyn and two sisters bore signs that they were sexually abused, according to previous claims by the family. (Rey G. Panaligan)