MANILA, Philippines?Widows and other relatives of some of the media workers slain in the Maguindanao massacre trooped to the Court of Appeals in Manila Wednesday to denounce what they claimed was a ?hideous plan? to free a senior Ampatuan clan member.
Along with media groups supporting their cause, the families let out their disgust over ?credible reports? that the appellate court was set to favorably act on the petition of former Autonomous Region on Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan.
?We are here because of the troubling news we got. It seems that these people in the Court of Appeals are really callous,? an emotional Monette Salaysay said in Filipino.
Salaysay lost her husband, Mindanao Gazette publisher and editor Napoleon Salaysay, in the Nov. 23, 2009, mass murders. Zaldy and other members of his influential clan are standing trial for the killings.
Bearing a tarpaulin printed with the words ?Help us find justice,? the media victims? families questioned the motive of Associate Justices Danton Bueser and Marlene Sison in refusing to inhibit in the deliberation of Zaldy Ampatuan?s petition.
In his petition, Zaldy asked the appeals court to uphold the April 17, 2010, order of former Justice Secretary Alberto Agra which cleared the former ARMM governor in the multiple murder case.
Salaysay said both Bueser and Sison had voluntarily inhibited themselves in the resolution of a similar pleading filed by the clan?s patriarch, Andal Sr.
Last month, the appellate court threw out Andal Sr.?s petition for lack of ?basis in fact and in law.?
?Bueser and Gonzales should inhibit themselves now. You don?t have the right to be there. You are unfair,? Salaysay said, crying.
?What?s their reason for doing that? I?m sure there?s money involved in this. It?s all about money. They treat us like this because we are poor. It really hurts us.?
Rowena Paraan, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) secretary general, noted Bueser and Sison?s arbitrariness and inconsistency in treating the case of Andal Sr. and Zaldy.
?Why are they inconsistent? The massacre was a conspiracy. There were witnesses who testified that Zaldy was among those who planned and tried to cover-up the massacre,? Paraan said.