Kin of massacre victims hail Supreme Court ruling on Zaldy AmpatuanBy Aquiles Z. Zonio
The families of the victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre on Friday hailed the Supreme Court’s decision affirming a lower court’s order to include former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan among the accused in the carnage.
“Now, there’s no more reason why he should not be arraigned. The court must arraign him (at) the soonest time possible,” said Ma. Fe Momay Castillo, spokesperson of the Justice Now Movement (JNM).
Castillo, daughter of slain journalist Reynaldo Momay whose body remains missing, said the group was disgusted when Zaldy Ampatuan was not arraigned last May. “Our collective sentiment then was that they’re just making fools of us,” she added.
Then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra initially removed Ampatuan from the list of suspects in the massacre when the ARMM governor offered to be a state witness against his father, Andal Sr., and his brother, Andal Jr., the main suspects in the killings. Zaldy Ampatuan also claimed that he had tried to prevent the massacre of more than 50 victims, most of them journalists.
But the justice department later reversed that decision and reinstated Ampatuan as one of the main suspects in the crime. Ampatuan ran to the Court of Appeals, which denied his petition. He then contested the CA decision in the Supreme Court.
The high court, in its ruling, on Thursday said there was no reason to grant Ampatuan’s petition.
No reversible error
“After a review of the records, the Court resolves to deny the petition for failure to show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error in affirming the May 5, 2010, resolution of the Department of Justice that ordered the reinstatement of the criminal information for murder against petitioner Datu Zaldy Puti Ampatuan,” the Supreme Court said.
Grace Morales, JNM secretary and widow of massacre victim Rossel Morales, said the group understood the dilemma of Myrna Reblando, wife of slain Manila Bulletin reporter Alejandro Reblando.
Reblando relocated to Hong Kong to escape harm. She said she was being stalked by assassins.
President Aquino also said he understood and respected Reblando’s decision to leave the country for security reasons.