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Damning Evidence VS Alibis In The Maguindanao Massacre; Journalists Voice Outrage (Retitled,Updated )

April 19, 2010

Wikipedia defines an obscenity  “as something that which offends the prevalent sexual morality of the time, is a profanity, or is otherwise taboo, indecent, abhorrent, or disgusting, or is especially inauspicious; ill-omened.”

But would you believe that this is how Malacanang is  nonchalantly describing public anger over Justice Secretary Alberto Agra’s decision exonerating of two of the top Ampatuan clansmen identified by eyewitnesses as the brains in the Massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last year?

Just how it is possible for Agra, Arroyo’s former election lawyer, to ignore the direct testimony of witnesses that they heard the former ARRM governor telling Andal Ampatuan Jr. via two-way radio to go ahead and shoot Mrs. Genalin Mandudadatu and the 56 supporters of her husband Toto Mangudadatu, and journalists, who were  travelling with them to cover the filing of  the vice mayor’s certificate of candidacy in the ARMM gubernatorial race???

What Agra conveniently gave more weight to is the alibis that the Ampatuans were nowhere near the crime scene.

On radio this morning, the former election lawyer said his action was also intended to help lessen the backlog of some 9,000 cases in his office.

One wonders why he felt the murder charges against the two Ampatuans topped his clean up list.

Okay, let’s stretch credulity and take Agra at his word.

Now consider this.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar:

It is obscene to insinuate that the President would interfere for any kind of political or personal reason in the legal proceedings of a heinous crime like the Maguindanao massacre.

Taking the statements of these two gentlemen at face value, one realizes that their attitude is a testament to the Arroyo regime’s disgusting insensitivity to the public pulse and its acquired deafness to damning evidence.

Methinks authorities might just was well suspend the judicial proceedings in this crime of the century until a new and legitimately-elected government succeeds the Arroyo regime.

Only then will the victims and their families obtain justice.

Update:

ABS-CBN News is now reporting that state prosecutors who investigated the case and found evidence to warrant the Ampatuans’ prosecution are up in arms against Agra’s action:

Assistant chief state prosecutor Richard Fadullon criticized the decision of Agra ordering prosecutors to drop Zaldy Ampatuan and Akmad “Tato” Ampatuan from the murder raps in connection with the November 23, 2009 killings of 57 people, including 30 media workers, in Maguindanao.

In a joint statement, the panel of prosecutors handling the case denounced the “patently erroneous resolution” issued by Agra absolving the 2 Ampatuans.

The prosecutors said that while it pains them to go against Agra, “they cannot side idly by and be mute witnesses to another injustice committed by the acting secretary of an office tasked to dispense justice fairly.”

Journalists nationwide closed ranks today and led the citizenry in expressing outrage unlined now by calls for Agra’s resignation:

The National Union of Journalists issued this statement:

Forget justice. Forget law. Forget democracy.

Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra’s order to drop multiple murder charges against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan is proof that these principles do not, nay, have never existed under the Arroyo government, that this is governance not through the rule of law but through political expediency.

It is proof of what we have suspected almost as soon as it became apparent that a clan known to be one of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s closest allies might be linked to the worst election-related violence in our country’s recent history AND the worst single attack on the media ever – that this administration would do everything within its power to assure they would not be held accountable.

It is not for us to proclaim the innocence or guilt of either Ampatuan for the November 23 massacre of 58 persons, 32 of them media workers.

But neither is it for Agra to do so.

Not after the charges have been formally filed in court. Not after the judge has issued a commitment order against them, for which the two, along with other members of their clan and several of the 197 accused have been transferred to the Camp Bagong Diwa detention center.

It should now be for the court to judge the innocence or guilt of the 197 persons accused of planning or carrying out the massacre.

By issuing the order, which incidentally Agra had already announced earlier he was inclined to do, the man supposedly sworn to uphold justice in this country has preempted that prerogative of the court. Agra has hijacked the judicial process and subverted the very justice he should be upholding.

It does not take legal expertise to know the alibi is the flimsiest defense in a criminal case. And yet Agra has practically pounced on this straw and used it to buttress his assertion that neither Zaldy nor Akmad Ampatuan should be charged because they were not there when the massacre took place.

But surely, this travesty is not Agra’s doing alone, for he could not have done this without the full knowledge and approval of his principal, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

We hold Agra and Arroyo, personally, and this administration accountable for this massacre of the principles that define us as a country and as a people – justice, the rule of law, our basic rights, democracy.

We call on the Filipino people to protest this outrage. More important, we call on the people to demand an accounting. We cannot let this pass. Or we might as well totally forget that we are one country, one people.


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