“King of Impunity” is how 15 cause-oriented groups of campus journalists, human rights advocates, professors, lawyers, media practitioners and students leaders, branded President Benigno Aquino 3rd as they converged on Thursday at the University
of the Philippines (UP) deploring his government for the snail-paced court proceedings of the almost four-year-old “Maguindanao Massacre” case, where 58 including 32 reporters were murdered on November 23, 2009.
Lawyer activist Harry Roque who handles 17 “Maguindanao Massacre’’ victims pro bono said that on November 23 he will file a case with the United Nations Human Rights Committee for the government to provide just compensation for the 58 victims.
He said lack of political will to prosecute the guilty parties have contributed to the lack of a speedy trial citing that the government’s lame excuse that it has no funds to provide the compensation for the 58 victims of the Maguindanao Massacre is hogwash citing that billions of pesos of pork barrel were pocketed by corrupt politicians.
Roque doubted that the president’s pledge of securing a court verdict for the 58 victims of the Maguindanao Massacre will be attained as the case is only 20 percent complete.
As the case enters its fourth year, no conviction was rendered since the hearing began on January 2, 2010 even if the primary suspects are in jail while 90 other suspects remain at large.
The alleged failure of Aquino to dismantle private armed groups and the supposed preferential treatment accorded to the members of the Ampatuan clan involved in the massacre have led the group to believe that the president should be held accountable for the victims’ injustice.
Also, Aquino was accused of failing to conduct a massive investigation on the alleged public funds use of the Ampatuan political family for their private armies prompting the group to suspect that the political clout of the suspects remain intact despite being jailed for several years now.
Cristina Palabay of human rights group Karapatan scored the president for allowing the culture of impunity to prosper in the country citing that no action was done to end the killings.
She noted that in March 2010 Aquino during his campaign and speaking before the representatives of the European Union (EU) vowed to institute reforms to ensure the speedy execution of justice and to prevent further killings.
Palabay said that Aquino failed miserably in his campaign vow as 152 extra-judicial killings, 18 victims of enforced disappearances, 80 victims of torture, more than 31,000 victims of forced evacuation and thousands more human rights victims were recorded by Karapatan from June 2010 to August 2013.
Mistaken identity arrest
Meanwhile, the Quezon City court handling the “Maguindanao Massacre” trial was informed of two cases of mistaken arrests of suspects charged in the November 23, 2009 incident.
In a letter to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 released on Thursday, Director Francisco Uyami of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit (CIDG) said there was no sufficient evidence to substantiate that accused Jun Aliman, arrested on December 14, 2011 in Kidapawan City, was the same Sahid Guiamadel involved in the massacre.
He noted that Guiamadel was in fact Arnel Abdullah, who was arrested for illegal possession of firearms in Sultan Kudarat on February 22, 2012.
The prosecution panel is set to meet with the arresting officers of the two suspects both named Dexson Saptula to determine the real suspect charged for the incident.
The first Saptula, alias Rene Matuti, was arrested on July 18, 2012 in Sarangani Province; while the second, alias Mohammad Adam, was arrested on November 9 in Datu Abdullah Sangki, Maguindanao.
In the case of suspect Guiamadel, CIDG investigation showed that the police officer who arrested Aliman was purposely misled by a certain Utto that he was a suspect in the massacre.
Benjamin Silo, acting chief of the CIDG investigation division, said that arresting Police Officer 3 Edgar Dingcong of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit of the Philippine National Police-Region 12 admitted that he was “fooled by his informant, who had personal interests and motives against Jun Aliman.”
“The arrest of Jun Aliman was anchored primarily on the picture and warrant of arrest against Sahid Guiamadel. It was not supported by any affidavit of identification or any other pertinent documents of identification that Jun Aliman and Sahid Guiamadel is one and the same person,” Silo said.
The investigator said that there were pieces of evidence including sworn statements of various persons that supported that Guiamadel was indeed Abdullah, who is currently detained at the Sultan Kudarat provincial jail as he is facing another charge.
Silo noted that Aliman had vigorously pursued before the proper court through appropriate motions for his immediate release on the ground of illegal arrest and mistaken identity, while Abdullah remained mum on the issue.
“This actuation can be safety construed as an admission by silence because human nature when accused of something that is not true would normally break his silence and would oppose it,” Silo said.