COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/4 Nov) — Relatives of former policemen accused of participating in the Ampatuan Massacre last year are appealing to the government, through the Truth Commission, to conduct a separate independent investigation and hasten trial of their cases.
The policemen were mostly part of the 1507th Regional Mobile Group of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
In a protest action at the city public plaza here Tuesday, relatives testified to the innocence of the former policemen. Emotions filled the open ground of the plaza when wives and other relatives of the incarcerated policemen shared their agony and misery, especially now that salaries of their breadwinners were cut-off.
“We ardently appeal to the government for a thorough review of their case. They are innocent and just complied with the orders of their higher-ups,” they said in a statement. The relatives have banded together and identified themselves as the “1123 Advocates,” referring to the massacre in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao that occurred on Nov. 23, 2009.
The relatives condemned the inhuman acts committed by the real perpetrators and deeply sympathized with the victims.
“Our families have suffered enough anxieties, anguish and embarrassments for we are being ridiculed, including our children as families of murderers. We also suffered financial difficulties that tend our children to stop schooling,” their manifesto added.
They said that prolonging the situation is yet another form of injustice on their part. They expressed confidence that the accused policemen have clean conscience and had nothing to do with the massacre that killed 57 people, including members of the media.
Appealing to President Benigno Aquino, the relatives wished for the Justice Department, through the Truth Commission, to look into the case of the former policemen.
Around 30 elements of the 1507th RMG are now in Taguig jail waiting to clear their names. (Ferdie Cabrera / MindaNews)