BACOLOD CITY – Journalists groups in Negros consider the guilty verdict of Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr and Zaldy Ampatuan as a welcome development in history, as the Maguindanao massacre is considered as the worst election-related violence in the Philippines and the deadliest single attack on journalists in the world.
Negros Press Club President Chrysee Samillano said she was happy that the principal suspects were convicted after 10 years of seeking justice.
Marchel Espina, chair of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines- Bacolod chapter, however, said the acquittal of another primary suspect, Datu Sajid Islam Ampatuan is disappointing and unacceptable.
“The families of the victims deserve better. We are expecting a 100 percent conviction of all the principal suspects,” Espina said in a press statement.
Sajid, the son of Andal Ampatuan, Sr. is the incumbent mayor of Shariff Saydona Mustapha, Maguindanao. He was out on a bail.
“Sajid’s absence during the promulgation of judgment undermines the judicial process and should be cited in contempt of court,” said Espina.
Sajid, who waived his presence during the promulgation, was given five days to explain his absence and justify why he should not be cited in contempt of court.
Aside from Sajid, two more accused were absent.
The NUJP-Bacolod chapter chair called on authorities to intensify efforts to arrest the 80 suspects who remain at large, as they still pose a threat to the witnesses, the victims’ families and the judge.
Espina wished Judge Jocelyn Solis- Reyes her safety and commended her ruling on Andal Jr and Zaldy.