ANTIPOLO CITY, April 23, 2010—Incensed by the “unjust” decision of the Philippines’ Justice department in clearing the Ampatuans of murder charge, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Middle East staged an in-door protest against Justice Secretary Alberto Agra on the Ampatuan massacre case on April 22.
In a statement sent to media, Migrante Middle East coordinator John Leonard Monterona said their 1,800 strong membership throughout the Mid-East joined the protest, pressing Agra to revert its earlier decision of taking Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and ARMM vice governor Akmad Ampatuan Sr., off the hook on the murder of 58 people, including a number of journalists, in Sharif Abuak on November 23, 2009.
Monterona said that Migrante-ME does not believe Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has nothing to do with the Justice Department’s decision.
“The DOJ is under Malacañang’s wing; what would you want us to think? We believe that Agra’s decision has Gloria’s nod,” he said.
Simultaneous press conferences and different forms of protest actions will be staged in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain.
Monterona also said that they are launching a “text barrage,” with their families, here in the Philippines, asking them to join the protest actions of the members of the media and the family of victims in Mendiola Bridge on April 23.
“This is one way of showing our solidarity to the families of the Ampatuan massacre victims, and to affirm our commitment for justice and peace to prevail in the Philippines,” Monterona added.
Meanwhile, Kabataan partylist had also expressed its support to the families and friends of the Ampatuan massacre victims.
In a statement, re-electionist Kabataan Partylist Rep. Raymond “Mong” Palatino said Agra’s dropping of murder charges against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan “reeks of an Arroyo intervention.”
“The manner by which it was done, quietly on a weekend, and the process, with the DOJ preempting the court’s decision, are indications that the administration is doing all means and schemes to prevent its allies from being held accountable for the multiple murders,” said the 29-year old solon.
The lawmaker said that they also support the call for Agra’s resignation and backs up the prosecutor’s decision to challenge Agra’s position. (CBCPNews.com)
Another story appeared in Dateline Philippines. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, meanwhile, has a very interesting story about the Philippines’ acting secretary of Justice. Read it here.