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

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 17)—  A lawmaker whose family members were killed in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre remains optimistic that justice will finally be served to the victims, ten years after the brutal attacks that shocked the nation.

Maguindanao Rep. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu and Nena Santos, lawyer of the victims, expressed confidence that a guilty verdict will be handed down when the court comes out with its decision on Thursday.

“Yes, very (confident of a guilty verdict). Not all (of the accused), because we know kung sino 'yung may strong na kaso. Meron kasi tayong hindi na-establish 'yung kanilang pag-conspire,” Santos said in an interview with CNN Philippines.

[Translation: Yes, very confident of a guilty verdict… but not all, because we know who has a strong case. There are others who don’t have established evidence of conspiracy.]

Pagbayaran nila lahat. Death penalty, kung meron, but I think hindi papasa ngayon. Pero kailangan, kasi sumobra na lahat ng ginagawa nila sa Maguindanao,” Mangudadatu told The Source.

[Translation: They should pay for this. If there was death penalty (the better), but I don’t think it will be passed soon. But they need to pay for this because what they have done in Maguindanao is too much.]

Mangududatu, dubbed as the “real target” of the attack for challenging the long-reigning Ampatuan clan for Maguindanao’s gubernatorial post, said he will respect the court’s ruling— be it positive or negative.

However, he hopes the odds will be in the victims’ favor as their camp will not be able to appeal the decision if the court acquits the accused.

“Sana sa akin, pasko ngayon. Pamasko na lang din nila 'yung sa amin,” Mangudadatu said.

[Translation: It’s already Christmas. I hope this will be their Christmas gift to us.]

Among those waylaid in a convoy en route to submit Mangudadatu's candidacy for governor were his wife, two sisters and 32 media workers. It has been cited as the “single deadliest attack on journalists in history.”

‘Faith and forgiveness’

Two days before the much-awaited verdict on the case, Mangudadatu looked back at the bloody 2009 massacre—which he successfully overcame through strong faith.

“Faith lang. Nilakasan ko lang. Walang iba, (nothing but strong faith)” the Maguindanao Rep. said.

READ: Mangudadatu to resign if justice not served on Maguindanao massacre victims

While he has forgiven some members of the Ampatuan clan, Mangudadatu stressed the battle won’t be over until justice is served.

Sige, okay, forgive ko sila, but still, 'yung justice, hahanapin natin… Pwedeng i-let go pero kailangan ng hustisya,” he added.

[Translation: Okay, I’ll forgive them. But still, we will look for justice. We can let it go, but we need justice.]

In the gruesome mass murder that shook the country in 2009, the corpses of the 58 victims were found buried in a shallow pit in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao.

READ: Ten years after Maguindanao massacre, attacks against journalists amplified, CHR says

Of the 197 accused on the case, 101 people remain on trial, and 80 people are still at large.

The Ampatuans, including main suspect Andal "Datu Unsay" Ampatuan Jr., have repeatedly denied their involvement in the multiple-murder case.

READ: 10 years after Maguindanao massacre, Palace optimistic justice in sight for victims, families