The pursuit for justice for victims of the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre is far from over, three years after several of the accused including members of the Ampatuan clan were convicted for multiple counts of murder, a family member of one of the victims and journalists said over the weekend.

In an online commemoration organized by National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP)-North America chapter, Ma. Reynafe “Nenen” Momay-Castillo said her family and those of other victims are still hoping that justice will be realized as many of the accused remain at large.

Castillo told journalists and members of civil society groups in North America and from the Philippines that the December 2019 decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial (RTC) finding 28 of the accused guilty of 57 counts of murder is still not final and is pending before the Court of Appeals in the Philippines. At least 83 of the accused, including suspected gunmen, are still at large.

She said she has also appealed the decision calling for the recognition of her father, Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay, as among the victims and to convict those accused for 58 counts of murder.

The Quezon RTC did not include Momay, photographer of the Tacurong City-based Midland Review, among the victims as his remains were not recovered. Part of his dentures and his jacket, which was used to cover a cadaver of another victim, were, however, recovered from the massacre site.

Jonathan de Santos, NUJP national chair, said the situation of journalists in the Philippines, especially the safety of media workers, have not improved even after the massacre, which drew a global outcry.

He cited the killing of popular broadcaster Percival “Percy” Mabasa who was gunned down in the capital city of Manila in September. Mabasa is the second journalist killed under the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and the 197th recorded by the NUJP since 1986.

Most of the journalists killed were based in the provinces and the killing of Mabasa has highlighted the danger faced by journalists in the country even in the capital.

Jhong dela Cruz, chair of NUJP-North America, said the online commemoration is part of efforts in support of media workers in the Philippines especially in seeking justice for the massacre victims and their families.

During the forum, participants observed a minute of silence to honor and remember the victims. — NUJP North America