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Statement on the 9th year of the Ampatuan Massacre

By HUSTISYA
November 23, 2018

Hustisya (Victims United for Justice) joins the families of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre, in the continuous call for justice nine years after one of the worst massive attacks on journalists and civilians in our history.

Nine years of the pain and suffering is immeasurable for all of us who seek justice. This is doubled by the fact that however prominent this case may have been, it has also become one of the stark realities of injustice and impunity in this country – that, the powerful can simply take away the lives of many, and it will always be easy for them to get away with it.

We join you in remembering the 57 civilians, 32 of whom were journalists. Let us together recite and cry out their names. We refuse to accept they are mere figures. They have names, their lives were gruesomely taken away from them. They deserve justice.

As in the words of a daughter, Reynafe Castillo, “Siyam na taon na ang nakaraan subalit nananatiling buhay sa alaala ko ang karumaldumal na pangyayari sa Ampatuan massacre. Mga bangkay na walang mukha dahil sabog ang bungo, naaagnas at nangangamoy, iyong amoy na dikit sa buong katawan mo (Nine years have passed but the gruesome Ampatuan massacre remains alive in my memory. Bodies without faces because their skulls were crushed, decomposing and, the kind of smell that sticks to your body).”

We remember the continued disappearance of Reynaldo Momay, Reynafe’s father, the 58th victim of the Ampatuan massacre, whose body has yet to be found after the incident.

“I remember myself opening the cadavers one by one, looking intensely as I look for my father. My husband and son were with me along with our relatives. Fear was out of sight at that moment. All I know, I want to find him and give him decent burial and to have closure,” recalled Reynafe, lamented Reynafe.

Such is the same sentiment of the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killing under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime, only to be insulted and mocked by the comeback of then wheelchair-riding and now catwalking former president and current House speaker Arroyo. The Ampatuans, a known ally of Arroyo, remain a powerful warlord family in Maguindanao and in Mindanao. Zaldy Ampatuan enjoys favorable conditions even while in jail.

Both the hands of the perpetrators – the Ampatuan’s private armies and state forces which were enabled and allowed by the government to act as protectors of landlords and warlords – and that of the Ampatuans and Arroyo are both filled with blood of the victims of the carnage.

We are in solidarity to the families of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. Nine years after, the killings continue, more brazen and brutal. The more recent victims of killings, from the Noynoy Aquino regime to the Duterte regime – activists, farmers, indigenous people, victims of the drug war, civilians and rights defenders – now join you as you cry for justice.

It is true, that families of victims sound like broken records as we gather, cry for justice and remember our loved ones every year. But we will not simply let go of this plight as long as the killings continue. We shall continue to do so, knowing this is how many will hear their plight, and to speed up the attainment of justice. One day, justice will be on the side of the victims.

Ipagpatuloy ang laban para sa katarungan sa mga biktima ng Ampatuan Massacre.

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