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By FRANK E. DOSDOS, JR. | Managing Editor

AMPATUAN, MAGUINDANAO (Nov. 24) – Thousands of people from all walks of society flocked to the desolate hills in the hinterlands of Ampatuan last November 23 to mark the 5th Anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre.

Keynote Speaker Secretary Leila Delima of the Department of Justice talked on the status of the case against the accused in the mass murder that put 58 innocent lives into a common grave.

She reported that the Prosecutors have presented several witnesses so far but it has not rested its case in order to put more witnesses to strengthen the evidence.

She also revealed that the trial was delayed due to resolutions of several motions filed by the defense, the latest of which was the Petition for Bail that took a long time to resolve. 

Finally she pledged to pursue the case up to conclusion so that the perpetrators of that heinous crime will be punished and justice to the victims and their loved ones can be reached. 

The occasion was graced by the presence of several national and local officials. 

Surviving families and friends of those who perished lighted candles around the concrete slabs erected on the mass grave site bearing the names of each individual who died. 

Sobbing was muted and some teardrops were seen in the cheeks of the survivors. 

A concrete Marker bearing the names of all the dead have also been erected nearby. 

A covered court has also been constructed on the top of the Hill and it was where the commemoration program was held. 

Observers noted that trees planted around the mass grave site have already grown tall. 

The once barren and grassy hillsides are abundantly covered by growing corn fields. 

Concreting of the road leading from the highway to the site is nearing completion. 

A parking area for motor vehicles has been cleared and covered with gravel near the hilltop to the northeast of the covered court. 

However a line of vehicles not accommodated on the parking area stretched over a kilometer down the road toward the highway. 

The rites ended at past noon and the site became forlorn and desolate once more as the Ranao Star Publisher/Editor in Chief Masiding Noor Yahya, Antonio Abejo and his staff of Malindang Tribune and this writer left on the last civilian van followed by police and army security vehicles down the silent road. 

In his cottage behind the covered court, the caretaker of the site was left alone. 

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