UNESCO classifies Maguindanao massacre ‘unresolved’ following appeal of victims’ kin

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 25) — Following the appeals of the families of slain victims, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has reclassified the Maguindanao massacre as “ongoing or unresolved.”

The organization previously considered the case as “resolved” early September but a letter from UNESCO Deputy Director-General Xing Qu on September 24 acknowledged that “appeals have been launched,” hence their new decision.

“UNESCO welcomes the interactions with the families of the victims and their representatives in which the Organization has had the honor to be involved,” the letter read.

UNESCO also noted that “for due process of law to be preserved in line with international human rights standards, their voices should be taken into account.”

The appeal to UNESCO was sent on September 12 with over 100 individual and organizational signatories aside from the families of the victims of the Maguindanao or Ampatuan massacre which killed 57 people, 32 of whom were journalists.

“Based on this new information, the legal cases concerned will, therefore, be maintained as ‘ongoing/unresolved’ in the UNESCO Observatory of killed journalists, as well as in the upcoming ‘Director-General’s Report on Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity’ until such a moment when a final verdict is reached by the Philippine judicial system,” Xu added.

28 convictions, 80 suspects still at large

In December 2019, 28 suspects were found guilty including eight members of the Ampatuan clan, sentenced to a maximum of 40 years in prison for the murder of 57 people in the mass killing ten years ago.

Datu Andal "Unsay" Ampatuan, Jr., Zaldy Ampatuan, and Datu Anwar, Sr. – sons of the late former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr. were also convicted.

Andal was dubbed as the mastermind by prosecution witnesses.

Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Solis-Reyes' 761-page decision said the prosecution was able to "establish the guilt beyond reasonable doubt" of 28 accused "who are found to have acted as principal."

The court also ordered the arrest of 80 suspects who remain at large.