IT HAS been 1,461 days since 58 persons, 32 of them media workers, were waylaid and butchered on a hilltop in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
All because the leading members of a powerful and wealthy political clan could not countenance any challenge to their almost absolute rule over their province and believed they could get away with mass murder.
Nine years and nine months on, with the trial finally wrapped up, we are told we can finally expect a verdict before the 10th anniversary of the slaughter, the worst incident of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and the single deadliest attack on the press ever.
While convictions will surely be welcome, we cannot shake off the fact that taking close to a decade—though we have to stress, through no fault of the judge—to resolve a case involving so heinous a crime is already a gross injustice to the victims’ families and an indictment of our still badly damaged justice system.
The quest for real justice and democracy in our country remains a long, hard struggle but it is one we cannot afford to lose. Let us all remain firm in defending our rights and liberties. Let us not be cowed into silence but continue to speak truth to power.