MANILA, Philippines – Ten years after the brutal Ampatuan massacre in 2009 that killed 58 individuals, the court's verdict is within reach and may even come before the anniversary in November.
"The DOJ expects that a judgment will be rendered before the 10th anniversary of the infamous massacre on November 23, 2019, and that justice will finally be served," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said on Thursday, August 8.
According to Guevarra, the trial concluded on July 17. All parties were given until August 15 to submit their respective memoranda, or their final position paper, before the judge issues the verdict.
Guevarra said the judge will submit the case for decision on August 15 with or without the memoranda.
Guevarra had earlier said that he is confident that the Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecution panel "has presented more than sufficient evidence, at least as against the principal accused."
According to the latest update of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, of the 197 charged, 97 remain in detention, including Andal Jr. Eleven are out on bail including his brother Datu Sajid Islam, 9 have been cleared, some due to deaths, while 80 are still at large.
The massacre is considered the deadliest attack on journalists in the world and the worst election-related case of violence in Philippine history.
Of the 58 people who died, 32 were journalists who joined the convoy of then-Buluan vice mayor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu when he filed his candidacy for governor against Andal Ampatuan Jr, a member of the powerful Ampatuan clan.
The convoy was attacked on their way to the poll office. – Rappler.com