March 1, 2024

MAKATI CITY – Justice has been elusive for the families of the 58 victims of the Maguindanao massacre and they continue to chase this, 14 years after the gruesome killing of civilians, 32 of them members of media.

In the commemoration of the 14th anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre by community journalists under the umbrella of the Philippine Press Institute, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Secretary-General Len Olea lamented how despite the court ruling finding those who masterminded the murder and their accomplices guilty of multiple murder and were sentenced to life imprisonment, the families have yet to receive their compensation.

“They only received partial justice,” Olea said, explaining that while the regional trial court decision is on appeal, the families cannot yet be compensated.

She also said the family of the 58th victim, photojournalist Reynaldo Momay is still seeking justice as his case has not been included as one of those issued a guilty verdict because his remains are still missing.

Momay is said to have been with the team of media who joined the convoy that traveled to the Commission on Elections in Sharif Aguak, Maguindanao to cover the filing of certificate of candidacy of Ismael “Toto” Mangudadatu, a politician who challenged the reigning Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao.  

In a short tribute, the NUJP and the PPI trustees said the Maguindanao massacre should be a constant reminder to the public and to the media about safety during coverage, and the continuing election-related violence in the Philippines.

Olea said the road to justice has been long and arduous for the families that the children of the victims who were mostly in elementary then, are now in or have already graduated in college continue to seek for justice.

The Maguindanao massacre is considered the single deadliest attack on the media in the world in recent memory. The victims were buried in shallow graves on Nov. 23, 2009. – Rimaliza A. Opina