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Aquino strikes 5 on 5th year of  Ampatuan Massacre – Zarate


As  the killing of witnesses to the infamous Ampatuan Massacre continue, Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said the Aquino administration must be held to account for  at least  five (5)  issues that aggravated the sufferings of the relatives of the victims.

Justice delayed, justice denied, justice mocked.

“At least four witnesses have already been killed under questionable circumstances since 2010, the latest one just last November 19.  Alleged bribery  by members of the Ampatuan clan has been revealed repeatedly at the witness stand. And just recently, 41 suspects from the police ranks who were part of those who set up road checkpoints at opposite ends of the road where the massacre happened were granted bail.  Worst still, army officials who were also complicit in this slaughter of  civilians were even recently promoted.  This is brazen mockery of our justice system,” Rep. Zarate said.

“The delayed massacre trials have multiplied the grief of the victims’ families and have made a mockery of our justice system over and over,” said the Davao-based Rep. Zarate, one of the  private lawyers who assisted the relatives of the 58 victims massacred five (5)  years ago in the hilly portion of Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan town, Maguindanao.

Media killings on the rise: 25 since 2010

With 25 journalists murdered as of June,  2014, President Aquino already stands second to former president Arroyo in terms of the most number of media killings.  Confronted with the issues, Pres. Aquino callously contends that these were not work-related killings.  Yet, documentation made  by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) shows that all 25 killings were work-related, and that almost all of them were on political beat when they were killed.  “Again, the callous attitude   by which the Aquino administration treats the issue of media killings speaks volumes of its low regard to the issue of continuing impunity in our country today” Rep. Zarate added.

Banned media coverage: what are they hiding?

Rep. Zarate also scored the ban imposed on media coverage of the  massacre trial since August 14, 2014. While the police did not say who issued the ban,  concerned journalists  were even forced to file a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman. The Freedom Fund for Journalists (FFFJ) has stated that this “provokes suspicion that vital information is being hidden from the public.”  “This ban on media coverage certainly is anathema to the transparency  required under the circumstances when issues of  bribery continue  to  hang in the air,” Rep. Zarate added.

Peace is unachievable without justice in Mindanao

“The Aquino administration is supposedly addressing the issue of  peace in Mindanao but it is doing this without truly addressing the root causes of the armed conflict,” Rep. Zarate said.

While it is offering a dangling its own peace formula in the Moro conflicted areas,  it is  at the same time unleashing its war machines in many parts of  Mindanao, in blatant disregarded to the lives and livelihood of the people,” Rep. Zarate said citing  for example the recent and ongoing series of  extrajudicial killings of lumad leaders and massive evacuations in the Davao and Caraga Regions.

“Pres. Aquino it appears  is  going to bully its own brand of peace in Mindanao just to be able to call it peace.  It is in reality as peace of the grave,” Rep. Zarate said.  “With the expansion of large-scale mining, agri-plantations and power industries  that will further delete Mindanao’s remaining resources,  we can  see only see the intensification of a vicious cycle of socio-economic violence begetting military violence.”

Traditional politics is bloody politics

“Not only is traditional politics self-serving to those in power, it is,  more importantly,  against the best interest of  the people. Injustice has grown wider and deeper as we mark the fifth year of the Ampatuan Massacre.  With no conviction  or  any real reparation yet in sight, justice for all the victims of impunity is still illusory . “

“As the Ampatuan massacre continues to be emblematic of the continuing state of impunity in our country,  we will incessantly continue to demand justice, lest we forget what it truly is,” Rep. Zarate said. ###

End Impunity Now – AlterMidya

Impunity is BS Aquino—Karapatan
“His government is shameless. He is impunity personified. His name is Noynoy ‘Impunity’ Aquino,” Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general said on the eve of the International Day to End Impunity, November 23.
“There is madness going on right before our eyes with witnesses and potential witnesses being killed one by one. The Ampatuans may be in jail but their power has not diminished. They are still able to silence witnesses. But what is BS Aquino government doing?” Palabay asked. 
On November 19, the former driver of Ampatuan Sr., Dennis Sakal was killed while Butch Saudagal, known as Ampatuan Jr’s bagman, was wounded. Both were shot while riding a motorcycle to Sharrif Aguak. 
“The BS Aquino government coddles the Ampatuans in the same way that it coddles and protects the notorious general Jovito Palparan who is housed at the Philippine Army camp,” Palabay said. 
Five years ago, the whole world was stunned with the massacre of 58 persons. Five years have passed and still no sign of conviction for the murderers,” Palabay said. 
Karapatan twits Coloma: BS Aquino’s rights record speaks for itself
In response to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.’s statement yesterday on “baseless” rights abuses under Aquino, Palabay said that “Malacanang keeps denying what is obvious and blatantly happening, such as killings and other human rights violations, in the same manner that it denies its criminal neglect of typhoon Yolanda victims.”
Karapatan enumerated several unsolved cases such as the killing of Fr. Fausto Tentorio, Datu Jimmy Liguyon, town councillor Fernando Baldomero, the massacre of botanist Prof. Leonard Co, Sofronio Cortez and Julius Boromeo and anti-mining activist Juvy Capion and her two sons. 
“While there are is not even a hint that justice will be served on the victims of these killings, the BS Aquino government, through the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has not stopped in its killing spree. Their pronouncements invoking adherence to international human rights standards are all for show. Even the United Nations human rights experts and international monitors have seen through their lies,” said Palabay. 
The human rights group documented 222 victims of extrajudicial killing, 221 frustrated killings, 104 victims of torture and more than 40,000 who forcibly evacuated due to military operations.
Palabay cited the continuing massive deployment of AFP troops in the Caraga region where at least four battalions are currently conducting military operations. 
Since November 1, there are two missing farmer-small scale miners in the Bayugan, Agusan del Sur who have yet to be found—Philims and Philip Poloyapoy. Their brother, Filjohn, was found dead on November 3.  The three were arrested by elements of the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) while conducting combat operations on November 1 at Purok 13,Bagong Silang, Brgy Bayugan 3, Rosario, Agusan del Sur. 
The Poloyapoy brothers first encountered the military on October 31 on the way to the gold-panning site. They came from their farm. Filjohn was walking ahead of Philip and Philims. They had with them a “jolen gun” (a homemade gun made of PVC pipe that uses marbles for bullets and alcohol as fuel). The brothers use the gun to hunt birds and to drive away boars that destroy their crops. 
Unknown to Philip and Philims, who were behind Filjohn, there were already soldiers ahead of them. The two were after the birds they saw and fired their “jolen gun”. The soldiers, who were now with Filjohn, were alarmed and fired at Philip and Philims. Fortunately, they were not hit. The soldiers left after they scolded and warned the brothers. The three were last seen on November 1. They told their mother they would be going to their farm huts.   
“Nakakasuklam na ito. The Aquino government can afford to drag its heels on the Ampatuan massacre and go easy with the Ampatuans even as the world watches. We can just imagine what happens to the case of the Poloyapoys and many other lesser-known individuals from the villages who become victims of the government’s fascist attacks. The world does not know them. The only way for us to end impunity is to also end the reign of the impunity king, BS Aquino,” Palabay concluded. ###


end impunity
Five years after the massacre of 58 men and women including 32 journalists in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao, justice remains elusive and impunity still reigns. The promise of President Benigno Aquino III to help speedily resolve the case that has put the Philippines in the limelight as one of the most dangerous places for journalists not only remains unfulfilled; through his statements and actions he has downplayed the killing of journalists and ignored the possible accountability of military officers in the Massacre.

Something is already terribly wrong with the country’s justice system when a warlord clan can murder 58 people in broad daylight and still get away with flooding the courts with petitions and motions so as to delay the proceedings, and worse, probably cause the murder of four probable witnesses to the crime.

The majority of the suspects, mostly police officers and members of the private army of the Ampatuan clan, remain at large. Forty-one, including the policemen who flagged down the convoy on November 23, 2009, have been granted bail. The government prosecutors are accused of accepting bribes. Just four days before the fifth year of the Ampatuan massacre, another possible witness was again gunned down.

All these favor the Ampatuan clan, allowing it to show the families of the victims and the witnesses that they are still in power and can play with the courts until public interest on the case wanes so that they can forge out- of- court settlements and strike deals with the government.

A welcome development in the midst of many disappointments is the Supreme Court’s release of guidelines in December 2013 to expedite the case. However, there is still no cause for celebration as the case continues to drag on.

end impunity1

The Ampatuan Massacre is a key issue in the Filipino people’s struggle against the culture of impunity that has afflicted the country for so long. A decision favourable to the masterminds and killers will encourage more killings of and human rights violations against journalists, activists, and other sectors.

Time is of essence. It has long been recognized that it will take the intercession of President Aquino himself to speed up the case. But instead, the Aquino administration promoted the two military officers who refused to provide security to the victims at the time of the incident—Col. Medardo Geslani and Lt. Gen. Alfredo Cayton, who were promoted to brigadier-general and major-general respectively, thus sending across the country and to the armed forces and police that the Aquino administration is not interested in putting an end to the culture of impunity.

Under the Aquino administration, 25 journalists have been killed for their work since 2010., making the Aquino record second only to that of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime. Instead of recognizing the political nature of the killings, Aquino has also blamed the victims themselves and dismissed the cases of journalists killed as merely the consequence of personal disputes. This does not only aggravate the pain of the bereaved families whose lives are also at risk amid the lack of meaningful government support, but more alarmingly feeds the culture of impunity and the reign of injustice in the country.

red candle

For these reasons, the President and his administration should be held accountable as well.

Despite the declarations of President Aquino that his administration has been implementing “reforms” in the country’s system of governance, traditional patronage politics still characterize the policies and official acts of the Aquino administration, and political dynasties and local warlords still lord it over the country.

white candle

Attaining justice for all those killed not only in the Ampatuan massacre but in the many cases of extra judicial killings as well lies in the hands of the Filipino people. The people and not only the journalism and media community must remain vigilant. They need to monitor developments in the Massacre trial and other cases closely, exert pressure on the government, and demand justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre and other killings of journalists as well as those of activists and human rights defenders. But even more crucially should they continue to monitor the policies, acts and statements of the Aquino regime towards holding it to account for helping perpetuate the culture of impunity.

AlterMidya is a nationwide network of independent and progressive alternative media outfits in the Philippines that promotes journalism for the people.

Rep. Neri Colmenares, dismayado sa kawalan ng hustisya sa HLI masaker

Gabi ng Pakikiisa: Hacienda Luisita Masaker, 10 taong walang hustisya (2004-2014)
Hacienda Luisita, Tarlac City

Pahayag ng NUPL hinggil sa pag-aresto kay Prosecutor Desambrana

“Ipinapakita natin na bukod sa hindi tayo nabibili, hindi rin tayo namimili ng mga resolutions.”

Atty. Ephraim Cortez
Assistant Secretary General for Legal Services
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
Co-Counsel for Dr. Alex Montes
November 14, 2014
Hinggil sa pag-aresto kay Assistant City Prosecutor III Raul Y. Desambrana, may hawak ng gawa-gawang kaso laban kay Dr. Alex Montes, isa sa mga doktor ng Morong 43

Dr. Alex Montes: Walang personalan

Pahayag ni Dr. Alex Montes hinggil sa piskal na nangikil ng P80,000 sa kanya.

Entrapment of fiscal extorting money from Morong 43 Doctor

Press Statement
NUPL, November 14, 2014

The epidemic of corruption: It is really very dirty, shady and slimy out there

The National Union Peoples’ Lawyers deplores the corruption that pervades the justice system as it experienced first hand an attempt to extort from one of its clients in exchange for the dismissal of a case filed against them.
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