The Aquino administration will be leaving a legacy drenched in blood because of the continued injustice served on the victims of the Maguindanao massacre, lawmakers said on Saturday, two days before the sixth anniversary of the cold-blooded murder of 58 people, including 34 members of the media.
Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate lashed out at President Benigno Aquino 3rd for his failure to deliver on his promise to give justice to the families of the victims.
The massacre that happened on November 23, 2009 in Ampatuan, Maguindanao province is the country’s worst political-related violence in history.
At least 197 suspects have been charged in connection with the carnage, but only around a hundred are in jail. The main suspect, ex-ARMM Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan, died this year of liver cancer.
Colmenares, the House Deputy Minority Leader, accused the Aquino administration of being insincere in resolving the massacre.
“The long-drawn-out court proceedings are an injustice in itself. We cannot understand what is keeping the government from acting decisively when evidence and testimonies that point to the perpetrators have piled up,” he said.
“The trial has dragged on for six years. The Ampatuan clan has used the whole arsenal of legal remedies available: petitioning the Department of Justice to review the case, to the Court of Appeals up to the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, there are scores of bereaved family members waiting for that elusive justice,” Colmenares lamented.
“The denial of the government of media killings, just like his dismissal of the extrajudicial killings of lumads, means that impunity will continue and heighten under his government,” the lawmaker, who is running for senator next year, warned.
Zarate echoed Colmenares’ plaint.
“Giving justice to the massacre victims was one of the campaign pitches of then candidate Benigno Aquino. He also vowed to repeal the Arroyo edict that allowed the proliferation of paramilitary groups like the Ampatuan private army. Yet, despite the said electoral posturing, the cases against the Ampatuans and their cohorts remain at snail-paced,” Zarate said.
The lawmaker added that Aquino also reneged on his campaign promise to disband and disarm paramilitary groups. He said the president retained Executive Order 546 issued by former President Gloria Arroyo that allows the creation of paramilitary groups to supposedly help the government in its anti-insurgency campaign.
“The executive edict continued and even improved by President Aquino is the culprit behind the many human rights violations committed by rampaging militias, particularly in Mindanao. EO 546 continues the state of impunity in the country,” Zarate said.
“The lack of justice for the Ampatuan massacre and Aquino’s failure to provide an environment where the protection of human rights is enforced and guarded, cultivates an atmosphere that is deadly not only for journalists, but, more so for ordinary people,” he added.
The Center of Media Freedom and Responsibility said 26 journalists have been killed since Aquino assumed power.