Families of massacre victims welcome Zaldy Ampatuan indictmentBy Aquiles Z. Zonio
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—The families of the media victims of the Maguindanao massacre on Friday hailed the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the original indictment of Zaldy Ampatuan, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in the case.
Ampatuan has been making overtures in recent months as he tried to become a state witness against the main suspects, who are members of his family.
Among the things that Ampatuan has claimed doing is trying to prevent the massacre of 57 people, most of them journalists. He implicated his father Andal Sr. and his brother, Andal Jr. in the slaughter.
Zaldy Ampatuan was taken off the list of suspects in the early days of the prosecution because he claimed to have evidence to prove his innocence in that he was in Manila on the day of the massecre on Nov. 23, 2009.
But then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra eventually reversed that decision and reinstated him as one of the accused.
Zaldy Ampatuan ran to the Court of Appeals but did not succeed in having the charges against him dropped. He then elevated the matter to the Supreme Court, which also upheld his indictment.
Ma. Fe Momay Castillo, spokesperson of the Justice Now Movement (JNM), told the Inquirer that they were disgusted when Zaldy Ampatuan was not arraigned last May.
“Our collective sentiment then was they’re just making a fool out of us,” Castillo, daughter of journalist Reynaldo Momay, said.
Momay was among those in the convoy of Maguindanao massacre victims. His body remains missing to this day, but he is considered the 58th massacre victim.
“Now, there’s no more reason why he should not be arraigned. The court must arraign him the soonest time possible,” Castillo said.
Grace Morales, JNM secretary and widow of massacre victim Rossel Morales, said they understood the dilemma of Myrna Reblando, wife of slain Manila Bulletin reporter Alejandro Reblando.
Reblando, fearing for her life, has relocated to Hong Kong.