Arroyo under fire over massacre

2010-04-21 13:44

kalahari.com

Manila - Outraged relatives of the 57 people killed in the Philippines' worst political massacre said on Wednesday they feared the government was protecting a powerful Muslim clan accused of the murders.

The relatives and their lawyers hit out at President Gloria Arroyo's team after it dropped murder charges against two clan members and allowed the main suspect to profess his innocence in a rare jailhouse press conference.

"We went back into our depression and all the families were enraged," Myrna Reblando, widow of one of the victims, said when asked about the decision to drop the charges against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan.

Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said on the weekend he had decided to drop the charges against the pair - barely two months after charging them - but Reblando and others said they were convinced the decision came from higher up.

Powerful clan

"Something like this couldn't happen without her (Arroyo) knowing about it," Reblando told reporters outside a Manila court that was hearing initial proceedings against 15 policemen also charged over the slaughter.

The Ampatuans are a powerful clan that ruled the southern province of Maguindanao for a decade thanks in part to a close alliance with Arroyo and her ruling coalition, which allowed them to run their own private army.

However she was forced to publicly end the alliance after top clan members were accused of orchestrating the massacre of 57 people on November 23 last year in Maguindanao to allegedly eliminate the challenge of a political rival.

Andal Ampatuan Jnr, then a local mayor, is alleged to have led 100 gunmen in abducting a convoy of the rivals' relatives, plus accompanying journalists and lawyers.

194 charged with murder


His father, then the governor of Maguindanao and a member of Arroyo's coalition party, is among 194 other people also charged with murder.

Lawyer Harry Roque, representing some of the victims' families, told reporters on Wednesday he had applied for court proceedings to be postponed until July, when Arroyo will have stepped down and a new justice secretary would be appointed.

"Does this mean we don't believe we can get justice under Arroyo? The answer is yes," Roque said.

Roque and government prosecutors also questioned why Ampatuan Jnr was allowed to hold a press conference on Tuesday in a Manila prison where he was being detained.

Press conference in jail


"I'm surprised, why in a high-security facility, one of the accused was able to conduct a full-blown press conference," Roque said.

Government prosecutor Richard Fadullon said he had also filed an application to the court asking that the jail warden be made to explain why the press conference was allowed.

Arroyo's spokesperson, Gary Olivar, insisted on Wednesday that the president was not giving the Ampatuans any favours.

"It should be clear to everyone of good faith that the president shares the desire of the victims for quick and comprehensive justice in this matter," Olivar told AFP.

He also denied that Arroyo was involved in the decision to allow Ampatuan Jnr to hold a press conference.

"Jailhouse interviews with suspects... I don't think that rises to the level of president," he said.

Read more on:    gloria arroyo  |  philippines  |  philippines massacre
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

 

Inside News24

 
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 06:24 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    SLOW TRAFFIC between Duinefontein Road and the Jan Smuts Drive exit
  • Wednesday Cape Town - 06:22 AM
    Road name: N2 Inbound
    DELAYS between the R300 Highway and the Satellite Station
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

APARTMENTS / FLATS FOR SALE IN Hermanus

Apartments / Flats R 1 825 000

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Bold 9780

BlackBerry 6 Engage your world with BlackBerry 6 OS on the...

From R3049.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in depth....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.