Maguindanao massacre victim's kin wants death sentence for suspects

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 19 2019 11:05 AM | Updated as of Dec 19 2019 11:59 AM

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The principal suspects in the Maguindanao massacre deserve the death penalty, a woman who lost her mother in the carnage said Thursday, the day of the verdict.

Gunmen slaughtered 58 people, including 32 journalists, and dumped their bodies in hastily dug pits as part of a mass killing that was one of the worst ever of media workers.

Among the roughly 100 defendants are key members of the Ampatuan family, the powerful political dynasty accused of orchestrating the Nov. 23, 2009 slaughter in a bid to quash an election challenge from a rival clan.

Jergin Dela Cruz-Malabanan, who was only 15 when her mother, a journalist, was killed in the massacre, said she was in favor of death penalty for the accused so they could experience the pain her family had felt. 

"Alam ko naman po hindi na maibabalik iyong buhay ng mama ko, pero sana mararamdaman din nila anong sakit ang dinadaanan namin," she told ABS-CBN News, hours ahead of a court verdict in the 10-year-old case. 

(I know we can never bring back my mother but I hope they feel the pain and suffering we went through.)

"Mas maganda pa ang buhay nila dito sa kulungan kaysa sa amin. Kami walang kuryente, tubig sa bahay; sila naka-aircon. Parang kami iyong nagdudusa," she said added, contrasting her family's situation with that of the accused. 

(Their life here in detention seems better than ours. We don't have power, water; they have air conditioners. It's as if we're the ones suffering.) 

At least 19 bills resurrecting the death penalty have been filed in Congress, measures earlier sought by President Rodrigo Duterte to aid his drug war, which has killed more than 5,500 suspects based official government figures.

If convicted in the culmination of a painfully slow trial marred by allegations of bribery and the murder of witnesses, the Maguindanao massacre suspects could face decades behind bars.

— Report from Zhander Cayabyab, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse