Tighter security ahead of Maguindanao massacre case judgment day

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 17) — Tighter security measures are expected in and around a special court ahead of the Maguindanao massacre case verdict on Thursday.

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, whose family members were among the 58 people killed in the brutal 2009 attacks, said he has talked to Interior Secretary Eduardo Año about the security measures in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.

Kaya nagpunta ako kay Secretary Año kahapon (that’s why I talked to Secretary Año Monday). I'm asking him about the security, to tighten,” Mangudadatu told CNN Philippines Tuesday.

Kaya siguro magkakaroon ng lockdown tomorrow and during the promulgation so okay din ‘yun. Pero ‘yun nga, dapat bantayan,” he added.

[Translation: Perhaps that’s why there will be a lockdown tomorrow and during the promulgation, so that’s good. But that’s why we have to monitor the area.]

The courtroom will also implement a strict entry rule, as it can only accommodate around 200 persons, said massacre victims’ lawyer Nena Santos.

Mangudadatu said a “convoy” of the defendants’ supporters and kin will also be traveling from Maguindanao to Manila for the verdict.

The decision on the decade-old case will be handed down by Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 at the Quezon City Jail Annex in Taguig City.

Philippine National Police officer-in-charge PLtGen Archie Gamboa earlier ordered to beef up the security at the jail annex. The police also said they are ready to provide additional security to Solis-Reyes if she requests it.

RELATED: SC allows live coverage of Maguindanao massacre verdict through PTV

In the gruesome mass murder that shook the country in 2009, the bodies of the 58 victims— including 32 media workers— were found buried in a shallow pit in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province.

Of the 197 accused, 101 people remain on trial, while 80 others are still at large. The incident has been tagged as the single deadliest attack on journalists in history, as well as the worst case of election-related violence in the Philippines.

READ: ‘Pagbayaran nila lahat’: Mangudadatu confident of suspects’ guilty verdict in Maguindanao massacre case