MANILA Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Friday expressed confidence about securing conviction against the suspects in the socalled "Maguindanao Massacre".
Guevarra told reporters during the 9th anniversary of the massacre that the prosecution of those involved in the incident will be completed early next year.
Guevarra said that the sheer volume of those involved in the case was the main stumbling block in promptly prosecuting those responsible for the 2009 massacre of 58 individuals, mostly local newsmen in Maguindanao.
But he assured that the government panel handling the case had already hurdled the formidable obstacles.
"(There were certain factors beyond our control. So many accused, so many witnesses too. Anyway,we are winding up now and we expect a decision hopefully within the first half of 2019," he said.
Guevarra was confident of securing a conviction "for at least the principal accused, (since) the evidence appears to be very strong from the DoJ's (Department of Justice) point of view."
The case against principal accused Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr. and coaccused in the massacre inched closer to a conclusion this month following the formal offer of evidence by the defense before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court handling the case.
In a sevenpage pleading, Ampatuan's lawyer Raymond Fortun offered evidence, including exhibits they filed during the petition for bail proceedings.
Among the evidence offered was the signed minutes of a meeting held at the Municipality of Datu Unsay, Maguindanao on Nov. 23, 2009 where Unsay claimed to have attended from 8 a.m. until past noon on the day of the attack.
The 58 victims were on their way to accompany the filing of a certificate of candidacy for Esmael Mangudadatu, vice mayor of Buluan town, when they were abducted and killed.
Mangudadatu was challenging Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., son of the incumbent Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. Aside from the journalists, among those killed were Mangudadatu's wife, two sisters, lawyers, aides, and even motorists. (PNA)
Source: Philippine News Agency