Philippines: Online indignation over massacre case

The government's recent decision to drop multiple murder charges against two prominent members of the notorious Ampatuan clan involved in the November 2009 Maguindanao massacre of 57 people, including 31 journalists, has sparked the indignation of Filipinos. According to a news report,

Zaldy Ampatuan, the suspended governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and his cousin Akmad Ampatuan, the former acting vice governor of Maguindanao, will be dropped from the list of those accused, Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said Saturday.

The two men were initially alleged to be among the key planners of the massacre that drew condemnation from all over the world.

In the past, Philippine blogs and social networks have put the spotlight on the gruesome Maguindanao massacre. It has been remembered in various ways and the court case surrounding the massacre has been avidly followed by millions of Filipinos seeking justice for the victims.

It is no surprise therefore that Philippine social media networks and blogs are once again up in arms with the government prosecutors’ decision. Some samples from Twitter:

Ricky Carandang: Justice Secretary Al Agra: There was no document to prove that the 2 Ampatuans planned Maguindanao massacre. Did he expect to find a memo?
tribong_upos: rebellion charges, naiintindihan ko kasi n d 1st place stupid yun. obvious na palusot. ngayon, murder charges? may justice pa ba sa Pinas?
gigglingpuppy: No words can express.. extremely terrible!! i just cant look anymore. :( R.I.P Maguindanao Ampatuan Massacre victims. they need JUSTICE!!!!!
trymykungfu: welcome to the Philippines, where you can kill 57 people for fun and profit and walk scot free
natibk3r: This decision to drop the charges vs Zaldy & Akmad Ampatuan wll provoke outrage not only from the victims’ relatives but also frm the public

For At Midfields,

The dropping of charges is certain to provoke outrage among the massacre victims’ relatives, who have repeatedly voiced concern that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had secretly intended to protect the Ampatuans because they are longtime political allies whose own private army was equipped with weapons traced to the National Armory.

New Philippine Revolution conjectures that the recent developments is related to the government's need for the Ampatuans to maintain peace in Maguinanao after a series of violent events in the province.

We all know that the Ampatuans served as counter-force or some say, counter-balance against lawless and insurgent elements in the province. Some of the military believes that Zaldy can still weave his so-called “magic” to put a stop to the violence breaking out almost everyday in Maguindanao.

Earlier this month, students protested in reaction to a court decision junking the rebellion case against the Ampatuans, saying that the rebellion case was designed to exonerate the suspects.

We condemned the Arroyo government for the obvious design of the charges against her Maguindanao allies. The weak and ill-filed cases were meant to collapse in order to protect the Ampatuans from their hideous acts. It also paved the way for the Arroyo government to experiment and twist the meaning of “rebellion” to suit its suspicious political needs.

The rebellion case against the Ampatuans was used by the Arroyo administration to justify the declaration of martial law in the province of Maguindanao. For Tonyo Cruz,

The so-called Ampatuan rebellion that was used to justify martial law just made President Arroyo look good as if doing anything meaningful and substantial. It turns out that martial law may have been part of a ruse to make the public believe Mrs. Arroyo shares the victims’ families’ and the public's demand for justice. Today, we begin to see the beginnings of the Ampatuans’ trek to total freedom from prosecution.

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