Arroyo’s electoral sabotage case and Maguindanao massacre intertwinedToday, we will be at the historic Mendiola Bridge (now renamed Don Chino Roces Bridge) to remind President Aquino that the families of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre are still waiting for “justice” that he promised last July.
A tweet by Federico Pascual is shared by many who lament the slow pace of the trial: “If only PNoy could show the same speed & single-mindedness in prosecuting the plotters & killers in 2-year-old Ampatuan masssacre.”
In a statement the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said “Two years after the gruesome crime, 103 of the 196 suspects remain at large and only two of the principal suspects have been arraigned. The case remains snagged on hearings on petitions for bail of the accused.”
The Maguindanao massacre trial has also been dragged into the electoral sabotage case of former President Gloria Arroyo with some of the major personalities involved in the massacre being tapped as witnesses in the highly-politicized court case.
The star witness of the Commission on Elections, which filed the electoral sabotage case in connection with the 2007 elections against Arroyo, is Norie Unas, the former chief- of- staff of Andal Sr,
Unas testified before the joint Comelec-Department of Justice investigation panel that he heard Arroyo instruct Andal Sr in a dinner in Malacañang to make sure that all the candidates of the administration party’s senatorial candidates win (12-0) in the 2007 polls.
Unas, who has been admitted under the Witness Protection Program in the electoral sabotage case, has been tagged as one of those who planned the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre and worked to protect those who participated in the killing. Strangely though, Unas is not among those accused in the massacre.
Zaldy Ampatuan, tried this route out of the massacre cases. The government, in its desperation to put Arroyo in jail (which they were able to do last week but has been amended to hospital arrest due to her health condition) considered it but Harry Roque, lawyer for the families of several journalists, vehemently protested it.
It is worth noting that Arroyo has to bank on the word of Andal Sr, her co-accused in the electoral sabotage case, in her effort to have herself cleared of the charge that is punishable by life imprisonment.
Arroyo’s lawyers said Andal Sr, who is now in detention for the Maguindanao massacre, denied Unas’ allegation that Arroyo ordered rigging of elections to achieve a 12-0 results for Team Unity candidates.
Underscoring the intertwining of the two high profile cases, is the P15 million civil suit filed by Harry Roque in behalf of relatives of 14 journalists and media workers killed in the massacre against Arroyo yesterday.
Roque claimed that “By her aiding and abetting the Ampatuans, Defendant – a public officer – directly or indirectly obstructed defeated, violated and impaired the following rights and liberties of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre: (a) Freedom to write for the press or to maintain a periodical publication; (b) The right to be secure in one’s person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures; (c) The right to life.”
Roque also said Arroyo’s “refusal to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed in Maguindanao encouraged the culture of impunity perpetrated by the Ampatuans, leading to the Maguindanao massacre and causing damages to the heirs of the victims. “