Junking of rebellion charges a portent of things to come

While coming as no surprise, the junking of rebellion charges against Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and six other members of his clan in connection with the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre is a portent of things to come.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) was among those that questioned the filing of rebellion charges against the Ampatuan clan and their followers.
The imagined acts of rebellion were used as a flimsy excuse to declare martial law in Maguindanao and to divert attention from the massacre of civilians including 32 journalists by a warlord with close links to the administration.

The crime then as it is now is not rebellion but the mass murder of 58 persons and the attempt of the perpetrators to cover up the crime.
The belated issuance of arrest warrants against 189 suspects for the murders is not a guarantee that the clan members and their followers will remain in detention for long.

More than four months after massacre, the wheels of justice have agonizingly turned so slow even for a crime that has shocked and was condemned by the world.

Aside from the delaying tactics employed by Ampatuan lawyers, we have received reports of attempts to offer money to some of the victims’ kin in return for the withdrawal of their complaints. This is coupled with reports of attempts to bribe journalists to twist the facts of the gruesome crime.

We are concerned that the dropping of the rebellion charges will further delay if not subvert the murder cases.
We call on colleagues, the victims’ families and the people to remain vigilant against this mockery of our judicial system and the denial of justice for the victims.

Justice must not be denied.

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