DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/20 April) – Presidential aspirants have agreed on a common issue: they disagree with Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra’s order to dismiss the multiple charges against Datu Zaldy Ampatuan, suspended governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and his brother in law Akmad, for alleged lack of probable cause.
Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilberto Teodoro said a Teodoro presidency would give top priority to the reinvestigation of the murder charges in connection with the November 23, 2009 massacre.
“Kailangan pag-aralan ko muna ang mga pangyayari, pero nakalulungkot kung ang mga ito ay maabswelto. Sa kabila ng lahat ng pinsala na idinulot nila dito sa ating bansa (I still have to study the resolution, but it is saddening that these people will be exonerated, amid all the damage they have done here in our country),” Gibo said.
“Ako’y nanalig na malakas ang kaso laban sa mga Ampatuan. Ewan ko lang kung rebelyon or conspiracy dahil sa murder na nangyari. So, dapat pursigihin ang prosecution ng lahat ng kaso laban sa mga Ampatuan. Inimbestigahan yan. Pinagmulan pa ng martial law yan. Dapat pursigihin ng gobyerno yan. (I believe the case against the Ampatuans is strong. I just don’t know if rebellion or conspiracy is the proper case against them for the massacre that happened. So, there’s a need to really pursue the prosecution of all the cases against the Ampatuan. The government should pursue that),” Gibo said.
Senator Benigno Aquino, Liberal Party standard-bearer said they are “very disappointed with the resolution of the DOJ.”
“It seems that the very little justice that the families of the victims were hoping for has been set aside with this resolution,” he said.
Aquino said: “Huwag natin kakalimutan ‘yung isang na-drop ang charges ay governor sa kasalukuyan ng ARMM. So, kung wala ng charges against him, na-lift ang suspension, balik siya sa puwesto at balik pa rin tayo sa sitwasyon na hindi nare-resolve yung conduct ng election sa ARMM (Let’s not forget that one of those dropped from the murder charge is the governor of ARMM, who was suspended because of the case. If his suspension is lifted, then we are back to the issue of the conduct of elections in the ARMM).”
He said Agra should have given courtesy to state prosecutors who were handling the preliminary investigation of the murder charges filed against the Ampatuans for the politically motivated, grisly death of 57 victims.
“Sana po tutal nai-file na ang kaso pinabayaan na ang korte na mag-desisyon kung may bigat, may laman, may saysay ‘yung testimonyang nag-iimplicate dun sa dalawang dinrop sa charges (He should have allowed the court to decide if there was merit in the case),” Aquino said.
Aquino and Roxas vowed that under their administration, there would be swift justice “that is not selective” in the prosecution of suspects, including those already excluded by Agra, in the massacre of 57 innocent civilians in Maguindanao last November.
They vowed legal remedies would be exhausted to ensure that justice is obtained for the families and relatives of the victims of the gruesome murder.
Aquino spokesperson Edwin Lacierda added that the dismissal of the charges and the possible release of the two Ampatuans is “very convenient in so far as it allows the two Ampatuans to go back to Maguindanao, where massive electoral fraud has been known to be orchestrated to favor chosen allies of the Ampatuans.”
“Of all the cases pending before the DOJ, why rush the resolution of this particular one?” said Lacierda, referring to the haste with which the resolution was made. This concern was also echoed by several groups who protested the DOJ resolution.
In a press statement, Bangon Pilipinas sad “don’t allow injustice to thrive” as it called on Filipinos to “arise in protest over the precipitate dismissal of the charges against the two Ampatuans.
Bangon Pilipinas presidential candidate Bro. Eddie Villanueva branded the act as “mass murder twice over.” (MindaNews)