In light of the upcoming Papal Visit in January 2015, the families of the media members mercilessly gunned down five years ago, purportedly on directive of the Ampatuan political family, have written a letter to Pope Francis, beseeching the Pontiff to intercede that justice be served.
Fifty-eight people – over 30 of them media workers – were massacred on the morning of November 23, 2009, in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province, Mindanao. The 58 victims were on their way to file a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, who was challenging Andal Ampatuan, Jr. for the mayoralty of Datu Unsay town.
“(Pray) that we are given the strength in our search for justice, in our quest to raise our families. (Pray) that we acquire clear thoughts to make the right decisions. We are a simple people, we do not have power nor riches,” the families of the slain journalists said in the letter, written in Filipino.
“It has been five years since our children lost their fathers or their mothers… five years since we lost our brothers or sisters… We are appealing to you, our dear Holy Father, to help us give justice (to the victims),” the letter read.
The families believe that through the Pope’s intercession, they might receive divine intervention in their quest for justice; adding that although the lives of their loved ones could never be restored, the families still hold firm that God is on their side.
In the letter, the kin of the slain wrote that the brutal deaths of their loved ones was too painful to endure, as they called upon the Pope to help ease their pain.
“In this place, the burst of gunfire rang; this was where they plead for their lives. This was where the hope of the 58 families disappeared. Here in this place, five years since the massacre took place, we are making this appeal for you to pray for us, and in whatever way, as the supreme leader of the Catholic Church, walk with us towards justice,” the families expressed in the letter.