A decade of wait: Where are key personalities in the Maguindanao massacre now?

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 22 2019 07:08 PM | Updated as of Nov 22 2019 07:56 PM

MANILA - After 10 long years, justice may finally come for victims of the gruesome Maguindanao massacre, which claimed 58 lives, including those of 32 journalists.

Next month, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes is expected to hand down a decision on what has been dubbed as the single deadliest event for journalists in world history.

Here are some of the key personalities who figured in the case and its backdrop:

1. ESMAEL "TOTO" MANGUDADATU

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Mangudadatu was running for governor of Maguindanao, challenging the long-reigning Ampatuan clan, when the massacre happened in the province. His family, aides, and several journalists were supposed to accompany him in filing a certificate of candidacy when the attack happened. He served for three terms as governor of Maguindanao after the massacre.

 He currently represents the 2nd district of Maguindanao in the House of Representatives. 

2. ANDAL AMPATUAN SR.

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Andal Sr., the powerful patriarch of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao, stood trial for supposedly masterminding the massacre. His sons Zaldy and Andal Jr., were accused of ordering the attack.

Andal Sr. passed away in 2015 due to liver cancer while in police custody.

3. ZALDY AMPATUAN

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A former governor of the then Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, now the Bangsamoro region, Zaldy, as well as his brother Andal Jr., was accused of ordering the ambush.

His bail plea has repeatedly been rejected and he has been confined in the Makati Medical Center since Oct. 22 after reportedly suffering a stroke.

4. ANDAL AMPATUAN JR.

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Ampatuan Jr. was the former mayor of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao, whose gubernatorial bid was challenged by Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu in 2009, which allegedly triggered the order to execute those who joined the group that would file Mangudadatu's certificate of candidacy.

He and his brother were accused of ordering the ambush against Mangudadatu's convoy.

The court has junked his bail plea and he has been detained at the National Bureau of Investigation since 2009.

5. DATU SAJID ISLAM AMPATUAN

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A former Maguindanao governor, Datu Sajid is also a son of Andal Ampatuan Sr. who was also implicated in the massacre. He was released from jail in 2015 after posting an P11.6-million bail for 58 counts of murder.

However, in March, the court sentenced him to prison over an anomalous P38-million school project.

6. DATU SAUDI AMPATUAN JR.

Saudi Jr., former mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, is among those implicated in the massacre. His mother Bai Soraida Biruar-Ampatuan sought the help of Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo over his case in July this year.

Saudi Jr. remains at large.

7. SALVADOR PANELO

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Panelo served as defense lawyer of Andal Ampatuan Jr. in 2014 but withdrew from the case only after a year, citing personal reasons.

He is currently spokesperson and chief legal counsel of President Rodrigo Duterte. In September, he admitted that the Ampatuans sought his help over the massacre case.

8. HARRY ROQUE

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Roque, a human rights lawyer, served as counsel for relatives of some of the victims in the massacre. He held a seat in the House of Representatives for Kabayan Party-list in 2016 but was removed the following year over alleged "dishonorable behavior."

Roque was named presidential spokesperson in October 2017. He resigned his post a year later, initially saying he was being fielded as another party-list group's nominee. He, however, ran for Senator, but withdrew in February this year after undergoing a heart procedure.

8. GLORIA MACAPAGAL ARROYO

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Arroyo was Philippine president when the massacre happened, which prompted her to place Maguindanao province under a state of martial law.

The Ampatuans were known allies of Arroyo and were members of her political party, Lakas-Kampi-CMD, which voted to expel members of the powerful clan after the attack.

After stepping down from the presidency in 2010, Arroyo ran for a congressional seat as 2nd District representative of her home province Pampanga.

In 2018, she was elected as the first female House Speaker, a post she kept until the end of her term in June.