“The conviction of those primarily responsible for this dreadful incident is an important moment in the fight against impunity and political violence,” the Canadian embassy in Manila said in a statement.
“We must constantly build upon successes, such as the one in this case, and continue to uphold justice, accountability and advance the rule of law,” it added.
On Thursday, a decade since the carnage, eight members of the Ampatuan clan and 20 others were found guilty by a Quezon City regional trial court for 57 counts of murder.
The 58 victims, aside from the six passersby mistaken to be part of the convoy, were on their way to Shariff Aguak in Maguindanao to witness the filing of a certificate of candidacy of Esmael Mangudadatu for the 2010 gubernatorial race on Nov. 23, 2009.
The claim for damages of the 58 victim’s family, Reynaldo Momay, however, was dismissed after the court said there was not enough proof to convict the accused.
Momay’s body was never found and only a piece of denture, recovered more than a week after the carnage, was offered by the prosecution with his common-law wife positively identifying the item as belonging to the newsman.
The attack was described by Canada as a direct assault “on values held dear by both Filipinos and Canadians” as the victims included dozens of journalists and individuals exercising their right to participate in the electoral process.
“Human rights, press freedom and free and fair elections are foundations of an inclusive democratic society, and they must be defended,” it said.
“The embassy extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the victims who were brutally and senselessly killed during this incident, and hopes that this verdict provides them some form of solace,” it said. (PNA)