The Ampatuan massacre in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009 will probably go down in history as the bloodiest of all political killings in the Philippines. Four years and counting since the hearing started on January 6, 2010, the pursuit of justice for the victims of the massacre remains as elusive as the prospect of a trial date. The completion of the trial has even become the running joke around legal circles that it might happen after 200 years.
The greatest travesty of the Ampatuan massacre is not in how slow the wheels of justice grind in the Philippines, but right on the get go when the prosecutors decided to indict all the accused as direct participants in the commission of the crime of murder. As the Philippine Department of Justice (DOJ) said during the laying of charges against the accused: “There is direct evidence that [the accused] agreed to commit the crime. Their acts and the attendant circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime unveil a common aim that would make all of them co-principals in the crime committed.”