MAGUINDANAO – On the fifth anniversary of the brutal, politically motivated murder of 58 people in the Ampatuan town, in Maguindanao, Mindanao province, scores of people gathered at Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman to remember the slain at the place where they were mercilessly felled by assassins’ bullets.
The victims – over 30 of them media workers – were massacred on the morning of November 23, 2009, while they 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.
Assassins, believed to be guns for hire and members of the Ampatuan clan, waylaid the caravan of media members and family members of Mangudadatu. They took the victims to the massacre site and gunned them down in cold blood.
On Sunday, the families of the victims – along with local government officials of the town of Maguindanao, as well as other sectors of society – remembered their slain loved ones by gathering at the site of the massacre to pray and encourage one another.
They shared their emotions and their experiences after the massacre; as well as reiterated the need for continuous prayer and a clamor for justice..
Governor Mangudadatu, whose wife and several family members were among those killed, said that despite the delays, he still clings to his belief in the justice system of the country.
Those gathered voiced their hopes that justice would soon be served, and that a conviction would take place before President Benigno Aquino III’s steps down nineteen months from now.
In remembrance of the victims, those gathered released white balloons, lit candles, and offered flowers at the grave markers.
Members of the cycling group, Bike for Peace and Justice, under the leadership of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao assemblyman Khadaffeh Mangudadatu and Buluan Vice Mayor King Mangudadatu, and the 6th Infantry Division and PNP Maguindanao, also joined the families to express their solidarity and support.