Agrarroyo and the Ampatuans

Posted: April 21, 2010 in Agrarroyo, Ampatuans, GMA, Maguindanao massacre, Philippine politics


I take a break from the quest of sharing a book-in-the-making in bits and pieces to comment on more recent political developments.

So much has transpired since my last commentary on the ruling party Lakas‘s woes last week, including reports on the continuing lead enjoyed by Noynoy Aquino in surveys, the barb-trading between the yellow and orange camps, and self-serving pronouncements from both the Palace and the COMELEC that preparations for the first-ever nationwide automated polls were on track.  Meanwhile, several IT organizations and business/management groups have warned about possibly-fatal flaws in the system.

What captured my attention was acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra’s dismissal of the multiple-murder charges  against suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan and former Maguindanao vice governor Akmad Ampatuan for last year’s mass murder of family members and supporters of their rivals from the Mangudadatu clan, and journalists accompanying the Mangundadatu convoy.

Of course, the decision generated a firestorm of protest especially from relatives and lawyers of the massacre victims and mass media organizations.  The US Embassy weighed in and called for the proper disposition of justice.  Seeing Agra’s decision as a clear dismissal of their work (since they recommended inclusion of the two Ampatuans in the rap sheets), state prosecutors at the Department of Justice walked out of their offices in protest of the cavalier treatment.

Those who want to earn brownie points will not be far behind.  Re-electionist Sen. Jinggoy Estrada announced that his legal team  is exploring the possibility of disbarring Agra even as he also disclosed that they were classmates in Ateneo. (An aside: so what if they were both from Ateneo?)

Agra himself insist that he did nothing wrong, that he will not resign, and that he will not sanction his protesting subordinates.

That he will be supported by his predecessor, Raul Gonzales, is a no-brainer.

Just this morning, we read Palace spokesman Rogelio Peyuan informing us that GMA will consult government lawyers to determine whether she should intervene in  resolving the controversy generated by the decision of Justice Secretary Alberto Agra.

Who are the government lawyers to be consulted on the matter?  Isn’t Agra the Secretary of Justice (albeit in acting capacity)?  Isn’t he also the solicitor general on a concurrent basis?  How’s he to resolve a controversy that he created in the first place?

Or was he the principal author of the deed?

Members of the cabinet are considered to be alter egos of the President.  They enjoy the trust of and closeness to the chief executive.  It is inconceivable that acts of cabinet members are not cleared before hand with the President.

Then our complaints regarding the dismissal of the charges against two of the Ampatuans must be directed at GMA.

I submit that the dismissal of multiple murder charges against the Ampatuan duo is the handiwork of Agrarroyo.

If this premise is accepted and recognized, then we should respond accordingly.


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