Seven years ago to this day, one moment in the history of this country discouraged me from taking up my current major or any other communication programs. One moment in my life where people around me telling bad jokes that to take up journalism is the fastest way to die, and that to take up psychology is the easiest way to become crazy.
A moment that truly placed the Philippines as one of the journalistic danger zones in the world other than war-torn countries like Iraq, North Korea or Syria for that matter, and that is the Maguindanao massacre.
It’s very, very disheartening that to this very day, no one from the Ampatuan family is convicted of the crime as they were pointed out by everyone. Most especially that backhoe with the branding of the city government at the time.
Television networks at some point counted the days from the massacre to the trial of the Ampatuans but the effort to count from that tragic day didn’t seem to move the courts to convict anyone.
It is one moment in history that still gives the Muslim-Filipinos (whether they are Moro or Maranao) that bad image, making them look like war freaks instead of hard-working Filipinos from the Southernmost region of the Philippines, Mindanao. Other than the radical image and presence of the Abu Sayyaf, and Nur Misuari’s rebellious reputation as the founding chairman of the Moro National Liberation Front.
In the six years that President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino ran the country no one was convicted. The family members who were left by the people who died in those fields are still fighting for justice. They were hopeful for the previous administration to convict the Ampatuans but it didn’t happen. They were that hopeful because the Ampatuans were close to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and again the “bright hope” that they promise for the families of the victims were there since the Noynoy Aquino administration was an upcoming administration.
If President Rodrigo Duterte and the Supreme Court could allow the burial of President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, people aggravated by this event seven years ago through their surviving family members of the victims especially Governor Mangudadatu should urge the president and the high court to swiftly convict the Ampatuans for this.
Convicting the Ampatuans within this administration may not forgive President Duterte and the Supreme Court justices who favored the burial of Marcos at LNMB overnight, it may at least bring back the people’s faith to the justice system of this country. But again, I am reminded that most people are losing faith with the system because of how a mayor in the province of Albuera in Leyte that unconditionally surrendered was gunned down within his cell. While small time drug pushers and addicts are easily gunned down without due process.
It would be unpatriotic to lose faith in the justice system just because it allowed a dictator to be buried at the national cemetery and a mass murder didn’t convict a family with a private army. The lack of reforms in the justice system tolerates situations like these. Why didn’t constitution just say in legalese that Ferdinand E. Marcos will never be allowed a hero’s burial. The number of appeals and the delaying tactics made by the lawyers of the Ampatuan clan let them live free despite the tragedy.
We will never know when the right time will be for the Ampatuans to be convicted. So no matter how screwed up the justice system is, we can only be hopeful that one day people like them will be behind bars.