Media group to DOJ: prosecute Unas for Ampatuan massacre

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/31 July) – The Department of Justice should reject the deal it made with a supposed star witness in the electoral sabotage case against former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and charge him as a suspect in the Ampatuan massacre, a media organization said.

In a statement today, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said Norie Unas, former provincial administrator of Maguindanao, just wanted to testify against Arroyo to escape prosecution as an accomplice in the Nov. 23, 2009 carnage that left 58 people dead.

NUJP issued the statement days after the Pasay Regional Trial Court ordered Arroyo released on bail citing “weak evidence” against her.

“It was clear from the start that Unas sought to become a state witness not out of any sudden attack of conscience at having helped steal the vote in 2007, but to extricate himself from a decidedly more serious charge, that of engineering the attempts to cover up his former masters’ responsibility for the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre,” the group said.

“It was the same nefarious deal Zaldy Ampatuan and Malacanang would have struck had not the families of victims and media organizations relentlessly maintained vigilance over the case and raised such a ruckus as to shame them into calling the deal off,” it added.

Ampatuan, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, is in jail for allegedly masterminding the massacre along with his brothers and father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

NUJP said that while it believes that massive electoral fraud happened in Maguindanao in 2007, “prosecuting the case against Arroyo on the clearly self-serving testimony of one such as Unas is an even greater injustice, as much to the Filipino people as to the victims of the most vicious act of electoral violence in our country’s recent history and the single deadliest attack on the media ever.”

It demanded Unas’ exclusion as a witness and his prosecution as an alleged accomplice in the massacre.

“Not to do so would merely underscore that for this administration, political expediency trumps justice every time,” the statement concluded. (MindaNews)