Maguindanao massacre: 2,192 days, 0 convictions

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — November 23, 2015 marks the 6th anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre.

It has been 2,192 days since that tragic day in 2009, when some 100 gunmen killed 58 people at a hillside road in Sitio Masilay in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

Fifty-two of these people were part of a convoy of six vehicles, which included Genylyn Tiamzon Mangudadatu, wife of Esmael Mangudadatu, the the vice mayor Buluan.

Two were drivers who were part of the convoy.

Two were lawyers — one of them accompanied by her father, who was also killed.

Fifteen were relatives and supporters of Mangudadatu.

Six of the dead had nothing to do with the convoy. They just happened to be in the area, on the same road, in another vehicle.

Most the dead — 32 of them — were journalists and media workers. People all over the world were shocked, particularly members of media, who called it "the single deadliest attack" on journalists.

The journalists were covering Genylyn on what should have been a simple errand for her, which was to go to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Shariff Aguak to file the certificate of candidacy of her husband.

Her husband was going head to head against Andal Ampatuan Jr., then mayor of Datu Unsay, for the gubernatorial post of Maguindanao.

The post was then held by Andal Ampatuan Sr., father of Mangudadatu's opponent.

The Mangadadatus and Ampatuans belonged to the same party — the Lakas-Kampi-CMD, then headed by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. And yet, political tension between the two families had been building up in recent years.

And Mangadadatu said he had heard some reports that his rivals were threatening him if he should go through with his candidacy.

So he sent his wife, whom he though would be unharmed because of the presence of so many journalists.

Of the 197 accused in the multiple murder cases filed, the principals were Andal Sr. and Andal Jr., along with 13 members of their clan.

According to figures gathered by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) by November 2014, 110 of the accused were members civilian volunteer organizations and the private militia of the Ampatuans; 70 were members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines; and two were local government officials (other than those related to the Ampatuans).

At the start of the trial, on January 5, 2010, the Ampatuans — Andal Sr. and Andal Jr. — both pleaded not guilty on their arraignment at Branch 221 of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, which is presided by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

The massacre happened towards the end of the Arroyo administration and the trial continues toward the end of the present Aquino administration.

Since the massacre happened, there have been four chiefs of the Department of Justice — Agnes Devanadera, Alberto Agra, Leila de Lima, and now Benjamin Caguiao.

Meanwhile, seven prosecution witnesses have been killed. And last July 17, Andal Ampatuan Sr. died of liver cancer, leaving his son, Andal Jr., as the sole principal accused.

It has been 2,149 days to since the trial started.

With the trial still ongoing, there have been zero convictions.

Last March, De Lima, who was still DOJ chief, announced that there would be a second wave of complaints against 50 new suspects, 14 of them Ampatuans.

One of the key prosecution witnesses, she said would be Akmad Ampatuan, among those implicated in the multiple murder cases, who had been put under the Witness Protection Program.

According to De Lima, Akmad, said to be a close aide of Andal Jr., became interested in being a prosecution witness after surviving an ambush last November.