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Senators laud verdict; Bayan Muna wants guilty Ampatuans sent to Bilibid ASAP

Senators on Thursday lauded the guilty verdict handed by the court against several members of the influential Ampatuan clan and others involved in the massacre of 58 people, including 32 members of the media, in Maguindanao in 2009.

“Justice won today,” said Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, while Senator Joel Villanueva said the decision restores the public’s faith in the Philippine justice system.

“I salute Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes for her dedication and her courage to stand for what is right and just,” Villanueva said in a text message to GMA News Online.

He expressed hope that authorities will continue to account for the around 80 other accused who have yet to be arrested and tried for the massacre.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the verdict has been a day too long in coming, but it is still a step towards the full measure of justice.

“My heart goes out to the families of all the victims who have suffered for far too long. I am glad that this decision finally saw the light of day, and the truth is this decision should have come sooner,” she said in a press statement.

“The world has waited ten, long years, and finally, we have taken the first step towards healing, accountability and justice. But this is not where the road to justice ends.”

Hontiveros said the people must now ensure the success of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and that the Philippines stops becoming a dangerous place for members of the press, or for anyone exercising their democratic rights.

“Now we must work toward the greater goal of ending lawless violence perpetrated by political dynasties who only want to cling to power and look after their own self-interest. The road to justice ends when we ensure that any similar attack on the free press and our democratic rights never happens again,” said Hontiveros.

Senator Imee Marcos said the decision of the court is a victory for justice.

“Sina Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan, at iba pang akusado ay napatunayang guilty sa nasabing kaso. Bagamat masasabing napakailap ng hustisya dahil na rin sa tagal ng paglilitis, ang promulgasyon na isinagawa ngayon ay positibong aksyon para sa mga biktima at sa kalaunan ay tuluyang mapanagot ang iba pang akusado sa Maguindanao massacre,” she said in a press statement.

“Nais din natin bigyan ng diin na ang pagkakapaslang sa 32 journalist noong Nobyembre 23, 2009, ay isang patunay na ang karahasan para supilin ang malayang pamamahayag, kaylan man, ay hindi magtatagumpay.”

Bayan Muna

Meanwhile, Bayan Muna lawmakers also welcomed the guilty verdict and urged authorities to detain the guilty Ampatuans at the New Bilibid Prision without reservation and conditions.

"At long last after 10 years, justice is finally catching up with the culprits behind the most barbaric attack against journalists in world history," House Deputy Minority leader Carlos Zarate said.

"These convicts must immediately be transferred and put behind bars in the national penitentiary without any conditions and reservations. Those who are still at large must be hunted down, arrested and suffer the consequences of their barbaric deeds."

Bayan Muna Rep. Euphemia Cullamat, for her part, said such conviction should serve as a warning to murderers.

"Sa makasaysayang araw na ito ay nananawagan tayo na labanan ang mga panukala at polisiyang sumasagasa sa karapatan ng mamamayan. Tanggihan ang mga batas na pagpapalalim at magpapalawak ng patayan at karahasan," Cullamat said. —KBK, GMA News