MANILA, Philippines – The long-awaited verdict on the Ampatuan massacre will be out on December 19.
"Let the promulgation of judgment in the above-entitled cases be set on December 19 at 9:00 in the morning to be held at Quezon City Jail Annex, Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City," Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes said in an order dated November 29.
Reyes will hand down the judgment after 10 years of trial.
The principal accused, Datu Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan Jr and Zaldy Ampatuan, are in jail. Their younger brother and also a principal accused, Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan, is out on an P11.6 million bail and is currently serving as mayor Shariff Saydona Mustapha.
They are accused of masterminding a heinous massacre on November 23, 2009, where 58 people were shot to their deaths and buried in a shallow grave with their mangled cars in Sitio Masalay in Ampatuan, Maguindanao. (READ: Children bear the brunt 10 years since Ampatuan massacre)
Of the 58 victims, 32 were journalists who covered the filing of candidacy of then Maguindanao governor aspirant Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu.
It is the single deadliest attack on journalists in the world and worst election-related violence in Philippine history.
Clan patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr, the alleged brain of the execution, died on July 17, 2015 while in jail.
Two crucial state witnesses, former Vice Mayor Sukarno Badal and househelp Lakmodin Saliao, point to the 3 brothers as having attended meetings to plan the massacre.
All 3 brothers have alibis that they were somewhere else during the meetings. (READ: For Mama: Child of Ampatuan massacre victim chooses journalism too)
Badal testified to seeing Andal Jr in the massacre scene and shooting the victims himself.
The Ampatuan brothers have questioned the lack of trace evidence presented during trial, like ballistics report and DNA report.