Arroyo sued by kin of massacre victims
On the eve of the second anniversary of the Maguindanao massacre, the kin of 15 victims filed a P15-million suit against former President and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for her liability in the deaths of 57 victims.
The families went to the Quezon City Hall of Justice on Tuesday to hold Arroyo liable because of her ties to the Ampatuans, alleged masterminds of the killings.
“The defendant aided and abetted the murderous Ampatuans and their private armies which eventually resulted in the Maguindanao massacre that killed 57 people in one fell swoop,” the case read.
Each of the victims’ families asked the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) to award them P1 million—P500,000 for moral damages and P500,000 in exemplary damages.
The relatives were represented and accompanied by lawyers Harry Roque, Romel Bagares, Gilbert Andres and Joel Butuyan.
“It seems the case will take some time to resolve but we need a form of legal relief for the victims. However, the damages are only secondary, what we want is a court declaration that human rights violations were committed,” Roque told reporters.
The plaintiffs in the civil complaint were Ramonita Salaysay, Zenaida Duhay, Juliet Evardo, Ma. Cipriana Gatchalian, Arlyn Lupogan, Catherine Nuñez, Editha Tiamzon, Erlyn Umpad, Alejandro Reblando Jr., Ma. Reynafe Momay-Castillo, Noemi Parcon, Glenna Legarta, Mary Jean Merisco and Stephanie Lechonsito.
Arroyo is the sole defendant in the civil case as she was the President when the massacre occurred on Nov. 23, 2009.
“The defendant is civilly liable for the Maguindanao massacre under the doctrine of command responsibility as Commander in Chief,” the suit said.
Members of the Ampatuan clan led by Andal Ampatuan Jr. are facing multiple murder charges before Judge Jocelyn Solis Reyes of RTC Branch 221.
Andal Jr. is one of 196 accused who allegedly killed members of the convoy of relatives of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, journalists and lawyers.
Both the Ampatuans and Mangudadatus were Arroyo’s allies although there was a rivalry between the two clans for political control of Maguindanao province.
In the civil complaint, the victims’ relatives said the Ampatuans used government-issued firearms and government-armed private militia in carrying out the carnage.
Mangudadatu, whose candidacy for governor was to be filed then by his wife when her convoy was waylaid, had asked Arroyo to intervene “to stop the latter from their murderous plans.”
“Nevertheless, defendant Arroyo turned a deaf ear to their pleas,” the victims said, as the Mangudadatus received no security escort from the government.
The plaintiffs added that such acts of aiding and abetting the Ampatuans had directly or indirectly violated the victims’ rights and liberties.
Arroyo was also supposed to know of the Ampatuans’ alleged human rights abuses in the province, and did not investigate the powerful clan for the alleged abuses.
And by doing so, this led to a culture of impunity “perpetrated by the Ampatuans,” which resulted in the massacre, the complaint said.
“The defendant refused, without just cause, to perform her sworn duty as President—to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed in Maguindanao—to the prejudice of the plaintiffs,” the document read.
The victims alleged that instead, Arroyo “cultivated ties with the Ampatuans, who would prove indispensable to her continued hold on political power.”
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