The families of the Maguindanao massacre victims brought their case to the newly formed human rights body of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the ASEAN Inter-Governmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), reports Inquirer.net and ABS-CBN News.
During the AICHR's first convention on March 28 at their headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, the families sought help in bringing the suspects of the massacre to justice and ensuring that compensation is paid to the families left behind.
Lawyer Harry Roque said, "The [families] are here because it has become apparent that an early resolution of their claims before Philippine courts is impossible."
A tearful Noemi Parcon, wife of slain journalist Joel Parcon, said, "We filed our petition against the Philippine government before the AICHR because we believe that the government is responsible for the lives of our loved ones. All the criminals are members of the government of the Philippines and, based on the statement of witnesses, Malacañang gave warnings to the Mangudadatus not to file the case because the Ampatuans are very dangerous."
"We are begging the commissioners [of the AICHR] to please answer our query. What happened to our complaint [against the government]? Please give us the assurance that you will help us because after two months, [there has been] no court hearing in the Philippines. We believe we cannot get justice in the Philippines within 10 years, within 15 years, because our government doesn't give justice," Parcon added.
However, the petition filed by the families is facing technical issues since it was filed on February 3 and the AICHR is set to issue its rules of procedure only this week. Roque said they filed the petition in February to prompt the AICHR to finalize its rules of procedure.
The ASEAN is composed of Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.