AS THE 10th year anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre nears, a lawyer representing the families of the victims is hopeful that the principal suspects in the case, members of the Ampatuan political clan, will soon be convicted.

“We are hoping that a promulgation of judgment will be this November in time for the 10th year anniversary of the Ampatuan, Maguindanao massacre, (which happened on November 23, 2009),” Legal counsel Nena Santos said in a media briefing Tuesday.

Justice Chief Menardo I. Guevarra said in August that he expects a decision on the gruesome case to come out by November “and that justice will finally be served.”

Ms. Santos said they do not expect all of the 197 respondents in the case to get a conviction, but they expect a guilty verdict against the sons of the alleged mastermind, Andal Ampatuan Sr., who passed away in 2015.

His two sons who are also among the main suspects, Andal Jr. and Zaldy, are in jail.

“We are not sure of the 100% (conviction) but we are sure that the principal accused will be convicted,” she said.

“We are the prosecution and we know our evidence and we know that we have submitted to the Honorable Court the evidence to convict the accused,” she added.

The Maguindanao Massacre, where 58 people were killed including 32 members of the media, is considered one of the worst cases of violence in journalism history and the worst election-related violence in the Philippines.

“If there will be no conviction, I am sorry to say that press freedom in the Philippines is dead,” she said. — Gillian M. Cortez