UPLM hits PNoy for death of another Ampatuan massacre witness

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/30 June) — A lawyers group today hit the Aquino government for not delivering on its promise to render swift justice for the families of the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.

In a statement issued in reaction to reports on the killing of another witness to the carnage that killed 58 people, the Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao also chided the administration for “awarding a clan that has bred this impunity and warlordism that continues to this date.”

UPLM was referring to the “good housekeeping” award to two Ampatuan grandsons who are mayors in Maguindanao.

Tahirodin Benzar  “Benzar” Ampatuan, mayor of Mamasapano town, and Saudi “Sean” Ampatuan III, mayor of Datu Saudi Ampatuan received the award from Malacanang last week. Both are grandsons of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., one of the alleged masterminds of the November 23, 2009 massacre.

UPLM said the award added “insult and the agony to the surviving families of the Ampatuan massacre” and “mocked the victims.”

“It betrays the promise made by President Noynoy Aquino III when he stepped into office, that justice will be swift for the families.  It also betrays the motto of the Aquino administration that it will tread the daang matuwid (righteous path),” the statement said.

“What Aquino has done is to deceive the families and the Filipino people that he will administer justice and make efforts to stop impunity.  Instead, he has played politics with the Ampatuans at the expense of the grief of families,” it added.

Alijol Ampatuan, a possible witness in the case, was shot dead last Feb. 21, but his identity was only established recently.

Another witness, Esmael Amil Enog, was murdered two months ago, his body found cut into pieces. He reportedly refused the government’s offer of security.

“Their deaths happened because the state could not muster the will to assure protection of witnesses. Their mechanisms, their security, somehow failed to earn the trust of the witnesses, and thus, were silenced forever,” UPLM said. (MindaNews)