April 27, 2010 in Featured
By ALDWIN QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — “The Ampatuans may be absolved of their criminal acts in the books of the Department of Justice, but not in the books of Justice of the Filipino people,” stated the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines-Baguio-Benguet chapter (NUJP-BB) on the dropping of charges against the two principal suspects in the killing of 58 people including 32 journalists.
Members of the media led by the NUJP-BB, lawyers and friends gathered at the Baguio Justice Hall grounds to commemorate the 5th month of the Ampatuan massacre. This is part of the nationwide commemoration of the massacre and protest against the order of the Department of Justice Acting Secretary Alberto Agra to drop multiple murder raps against Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and mayor Akmad Ampatuan.
According to NUJP-BB, Agra had blood dripping from his hands when he ordered the dropping of charges. The group added that he did not only fail the families of the victims of the massacre but denied justice to the whole Filipino people. They added that the decision was not only a blow to the Philippine justice system but a degradation to the principles of justice as a whole.
On April 16, a day after Agra spoke with the families and relatives of the massacre victims, he released a resolution ordering the dropping of murder charges as he claims that there are no concrete evidence and there was no witness against Zaldy and Akbar.
The NUJP national chapter meanwhile praised the National Prosecution Service (NPS) headed by Chief State Prosecutor Claro Arellano. NUJP said they did the honorable thing in protesting the resolution of Agra absolving the two main suspects on the gruesome murder.
Several days ago, Arellano on behalf of the members of NPS issued a statement protesting the said resolution of the Acting Justice Secretary. “ The Department of Justice is supposed to be the sword and shield of law and order. We are deeply concerned that the resolution will all the more convince a long skeptical public that our criminal justice system is impotent when the accused are politically influential,” the statement reads.
NUJP said that Agra’s scandalous resolution was not unexpected at all. The group said what was surprising was the suddenness and the brazenness with which it was issued. “ And, of course, that Agra would never have committed such a brazen act without the knowledge of or, most probably, order from his ultimate superior, she who is beholden to the Ampatuans, “ NUJP added. The NUJP was referring to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Baguio-Benguet chapter President Atty. Daniel Mangallay read the IBP’s statement questioning Agra’s resolution. According to the IBP, the proper process was not followed.
Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a statement on the said resolution. “The IFJ believes the decision, made by the Philippines’ Acting Secretary for Justice, Alberto Agra, suggests political interference in the judicial process,” IFJ stated.
The IFJ challenged all presidential candidates in the Philippines to make a public commitment to overturn the country’s culture of impunity for the killing of journalists and to observe and respect the independence of the judiciary. IFJ also urged the Arroyo administration not to tarnish its record further by impeding justice at its last term in office.
NUJP-BB led a candle lighting in front of the Justice Hall to remember the victims of the November 29, 2009 carnage. “The Ampatuan massacre killed journalists, women, lawyers, who are all civilians. And we will never forget,” stated the NUJP further.# nordis.net