The month of November in 2009 was a significant one for me. It was the month that I said good bye to the single life. But in a couple of weeks, that month also marked a gruesome event in my country, the Philippines, which I have never forgotten. On November 23, 2009, 58 people were killed in what has become known as the Maguindanao Massacre.
By next month, it would be 4 years since the massacre happened in the town of Ampatuan, Maguindanao province. And yet, the families of the victims are still clamoring for justice. There are 198 suspects in the massacre and as former Senator Joker Arroyo has noted, with nearly 200 defendants and 300 witnesses, the trial could take 200 years. The prosecution lawyer said it could take a hundred years. Oh, why does it have to be so slow? I remember that my late father who was a lawyer himself used to tell me that justice wheels can turn slow.
What comfort can be given then to the family of the victims, what hope can we who witness and care for their pain offer? We can, of course, continue to advocate for justice for them. And we can also rally behind them and for them in prayer.
A few days ago, I was reading Psalm 10 from the Bible and these verses stood out for me and actually reminded me of the Maguindanao Massacre:
12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
Psalm 10: 12-15, New International Version
These verses speak of the need for justice, for accountability, for the Lord to act on behalf of the aggrieved. These are verses that could very well be the prayer for anyone who is a victim of injustice, including the families of victims in the Maguindanao Massacre.
I believe that as we seek God and lay our concerns for justice before Him like the author of this Psalm does, He will hear. After all, He is a just God (Isaiah 30:18). We may not know when is His timetable to act but we can be comforted that He will act. The perpetrators of crime will be called to account in this life. And if not, for whatever reason, they will still face a sure accounting before the God of Righteousness and Justice.