The speed of Arroyo’s arrest should be the “gold standard” in dispensing justice to the victims of the Ampatuan massacre

This is the press statement from Akbayan.

Akbayan on the 2nd Anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre

As the country commemorates the 2nd anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre, Akbayan Party calls on the Aquino government to step up its effort to bring the justice to the families and victims of this gruesome crime. Now that the wheels of justice have made huge strides against Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, we should now ensure the same against all those who were given the widest latitude to commit crimes under her term. We cannot expect to call the triumph of justice against Arroyo complete if we cannot say the same against the Ampatuans. An Arroyo conviction, which is the greatest statement of repudiation of Arroyo’s legacy of corruption and impunity, can only be possible with an Ampatuan conviction.

The same speed and determination as the efforts to bring Arroyo to justice must be made in prosecuting and bringing a judgment to this particular case. If the government can exhaust all legal efforts to prevent Arroyo from evading culpability, then it can do the same in preventing the Ampatuans from escaping justice. We have seen the efforts of our government to thwart attempts to derail the people’s battle against corruption, now we must see the same zeal in the battle against warlordism and impunity.

It should not be forgotten that this crime was perpetrated during the term of Arroyo and the criminals who committed it empowered by her. The crimes of Arroyo cannot be divorced from the crimes of the Ampatuans. After all, it was Arroyo who gave them the resources and license to terrorize the citizenry of Maguindanao. It was her impunity and brazen violation of rights that inspired and emboldened the Ampatuans to believe that they are above the law. Their warlordism reflected the same kind of rule that the Arroyo administration dispensed. As much as this is a case against the Ampatuans, this is also a case against Arroyo.

The speedy resolution of the case was promised by President Aquino to the families of the victims. He must stay true to it and ensure that such an atrocity can never happen again. The efforts to realize justice persist but now it must be taken with greater fortitude. The judicious and speedy resolution of the case against the Ampatuans must become a priority of the government. Nothing less than the conviction of those responsible can bring resolution and peace to the families of all 57 victims.

The speed of Arroyo’s arrest should be the “gold standard”in dispensing justice to the victims of the Ampatuan massacre.