WATCH | 8 years after Ampatuan massacre, Palace predicts first convictions in 4 years


MANILA, Philippines — Eight years since 58 persons, 32 of them media workers, lost their lives in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre, a Malacañang official said the first convictions of those accused of the mass murder could be expected in four more years.

Undersecretary Joel Egco, executive director of the Presidential Task Force on Media Safety, said the estimated time-frame of the Department of Justice, based on “the rate the trial is moving,” was a “conservative projection.”

Some families of the media victims met with Egco, presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who was their former lawyer, and eventually, President Rodigo Duterte in the Palace on Thursday, the eighth anniversary of the massacre.

Roque said he would not allow another four years to pass before securing a judgment. He said they have recommended a “first in, first out” system by which a promulgation of judgment can be secured for suspects who have completed presenting their evidence.

Meeting with the families, Duterte suggested changing the prosecutors and the venue of the trial. It was only then that Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II informed him that the trial had long been transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

The Ampatuan massacre has been officially recognized as the single deadliest attack on the press ever. It is also considered the worst incident of electoral violence in recent Philippine history.