POOLED EDITORIAL: Let Justice Be Done!

In memory of our slain colleagues and other victims of the Ampatuan Massacre of November 23, 2009, media workers of Davao City along with civil society groups will stage a die-in and rally at 5 p.m. today at the Centennial Park.

We urge everyone to join us. If you can’t, we ask you to please wear black, tie black ribbons, display black flags to show that we have had enough of this travesty  of justice.

Today, April 23, is the fifth month since 58 persons, 32 of them from the media, were killed in a manner described by Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo as “unprecedented in its ferocity, brutality and brazenness.”

Five months. And Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra now wants two Ampatuans – Zaldy and Akmad —  cleared of multiple murder charges for alleged lack of probable cause.

Agra might as well have ruled that what happened at noon of 23 November was no massacre but a mass suicide; that the 58 victims of the Ampatuan Massacre killed themselves.

In contrast, the Morong 43 (43 health workers), arrested in Morong, Rizal on February 6, 2010,  were handcuffed, blindfolded, isolated for days, interrogated, tortured,  on mere suspicion they were members of the New People’s Army.

Five months after the massacre, no one has been punished for the crime; no one has been punished for  helping build the Ampatuans’ armory of government-issued weapons and ammunition; the Commission on Audit has yet to release to the public a report on the special audit it did on Maguindanao’s public funds,  including the alleged misuse  of  its P84.4 million monthly internal revenue allotment; and the Office of the Ombudsman has yet to report its lifestyle investigation findings to the public.

We are outraged!  We are outraged by the impunity which allows government officials to circumvent the law. We are outraged by the shameless abuse of public monies for personal use. We are outraged about the government arms cache placed in the hands of the President’s political allies.

We hold the government accountable for everything that has brought about this level of impunity to steal, to kill, to get away with mass murder with nothing more than an alibi.

We call for Acting Justice Secretary Agra’s immediate resignation!

We will not rest until justice is done.