FOR failing to mention the four-year-old Maguindanao massacre case in his State of the Nation Address (SONA), the families of the victims on Wednesday hit President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
Harry Roque, the legal counsel of the families of the 15 of the 58 victims, said the non-inclusion of the case in the President’s SONA only proved his lack of political will to punish those charged with the gruesome killings.
“The President’s failure to state how he intend to finish the prosecution of the massacre case points to a lack of political will to punish those who will violate freedom of the press and the right to life,” he said.
However, Roque said they are still hoping that Aquino would address his administration’s plan to speed up the trial of the 106 accused.
Among the accused are members of the influential Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao
“It was very sad that President Noynoy Aquino, for the first time in his SONA, did not have anything to say about the Maguindanao Massacre,” Roque said.
He added that as chief executive, it is still Aquino’s duty to prosecute and cause the punishment of the perpetrators of the massacre.
Roque said they expected that the President will squarely address the issue of compensation to be given to the victims.
This after some of the victims’ families almost entering into an out-of-court settlement with the Ampatuans.
Roque had revealed that 14 families signed a written agreement with an emissary of the Ampatuans on February to drop the case in exchange for P50 million.
The families were asked to executive an affidavit of desistance and another affidavit that would state, among others, that Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, the Ampatuans’ rival, has promised to pay them P30,000 each after they had filed his certificate of candidacy for the 2010 elections.
However, the deal did not materialize because the emissary was killed.
Roque said the victims’ families have been exasperated by the slow pace of the trial.
At least 85 accused have already been arraigned for the first set of 57 counts of murder, including members of the Ampatuan clan led by former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.