PRESS STATEMENT FROM GMA NEWS TV:
"The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism partners with the country's no. 1 news channel GMA News TV in a must-see five part documentary series titled PCIJ: Media Killings in the Philippines.
"The series will air for five consecutive Saturdays at 9:55 pm on GMA News TV Channel 11 starting November 19. All documentaries will be hosted and produced by PCIJ Multimedia Director Ed Lingao (shown in photo above).
"For its premiere this Saturday, PCIJ presents Maguindanao: The Quest for Justice. Families of the media victims resist offers for a huge settlement. But with many of them barely making ends meet, and with the prospect of a long uphill court battle ahead against an opponent that still wields political and economic clout, the families wonder how long they can hold out.
"Most of the victims were breadwinners; one was a single mother who left behind five children. The five children are now being cared for by their grandmother, who is a jobless widow. As the grandmother tells it, on bad days she is forced to feed the children nothing but rice with soy sauce.
"Against that backdrop, families of the victims have been bravely resisting efforts by Ampatuan emissaries for a settlement of reportedly P25 million per victim. So far, no one has given in. However, the families are worried that some of them may eventually be forced to settle, because of fears over the continuing political and financial clout of the Ampatuan family. Proof of this is the fact that 42 candidates with the surname Ampatuan won in the 2010 elections, including 3 Ampatuans who are in jail for the massacre and five who are in hiding. Three Ampatuans won seats in the provincial board, and eight Ampatuans were elected mayor; the mayor and vice mayor of Shariff Aguak as well as eight municipal councilors are members of the direct family of Andal Sr.
"In addition, the government only froze the known bank accounts of the Ampatuans a year and a half after the massacre, more than enough time for the clan to hide their liquid assets. An investigation by the PCIJ and Mindanews revealed a harvest of houses of the Ampatuans stretching from Shariff Aguak to Davao and Cotabato City to Dasmarinas Village in Makati. These include at least 35 houses owned by direct family members in Davao City, 8 of which are owned by Andal Sr. Curiously, these assets are not listed in their Statements of Assets and Liabilities
"While the Ampatuans continue to roll in wealth, the families of the victims try to survive from day to day. And many family members admit that the offers for a settlement become more tempting with each passing day.
"PCIJ: Media Killings in the Philippines premieres this Saturday (November 19) at 9:55pm on the leading news channel GMA News TV."
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