On Thursday, December 19, more than a decade after the worst incident of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on journalists ever, verdicts will finally be handed down on 101 accused for the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre.
We expect the decision of Justice Jocelyn Solis-Reyes to be just for the sake of the 58 persons, 32 of them our colleagues, who lost their lives because a political clan that a corrupt system of governance had allowed to amass so much wealth and power could not allow anyone to challenge its almost absolute rule over its turf.
But tomorrow’s judgment, if just, will just be the first, albeit major, victory in the long and excruciating quest for justice for the Ampatuan 58.
There are still 80 suspects, including key members of the Ampatuan clan and their armed retainers, who remain at large.
And there are also those who sought to cover up this most grievous of crimes.
All of them must be held to account.
And there remains the culture of impunity nurtured by government apathy that continues to embolden those – including officers and agents of the state – who wield violence to achieve their ends.
We call on the community of independent Filipino journalists and all Filipinos who cherish democracy, human rights and the rule of law to unite to end this madness that is drowning our nation in blood.