Gov’t vows to pursue justice for Maguindanao victims

March 30, 2010 10:24 pm 

MANILA, March 30 — Malacanang on Tuesday said it respects the court’s decision dismissing the rebellion charges against some members of the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao, but assured that the “temporary setback” will not affect the tack it was taking in pursuing justice for the victims of the Nov. 23 massacre.

In a media briefing, Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Gary Olivar said that while it stands by the wisdom of the decision, the government still has the options to move for the reconsideration of the court ruling.

“This is not yet over. We will continue to pursue justice,” he said in reaction to the decision of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court that junked the rebellion charges against Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and six other members of his clan “for clear lack of evidence to support a finding of probable cause.”

Olivar appealed to the different parties concerned, particularly the families of the victims, to remain vigilant so that the remaining cases, especially the multiple murder charges, would be given justice. He said he sees no reason why the dismissal would affect the other cases.

When asked if the decision will have an effect on the validity of the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao, he clarified that the court ruled only on the rebellion case, not on the appropriateness declaring it at that time.

Olivar said the government is standing by the wisdom of the emergency declaration not only because of the presence of credible evidence of rebellion, but because of the positive outcomes of the prompt government response to the Maguindanao incident.

He said that with the declaration of martial law, the government was able to expedite apprehension of suspects, collection of evidence, securing victims, restoration of normal government operations, and securing the peace in the province.

Olivar allayed fears of a resurgence of terror in the province as he said, law enforcement continues to be in place in the area, and, recently, has been boosted by the missions of the newly-formed Independent Commission Against Private Armies (ICAPA) or the Zenarosa Commssion.

ICAPA has listed Maguindanao as the number one problem area in terms of the active presence of private armies. (PNA)

DCT/OPS/ssc

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