DOJ fails to handle Ampatuan massacre case—media watchdog

Aug. 07, 2014

DAVAO CITY – A Metro Manila-based media watchdog said that Department of Justice was not only “remiss of its duties” to bring justice to the families of the Ampatuan massacre victims but, also failed to handle well the case.

On Thursday, Luis Teodoro, deputy director of Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, attributed the failure to “corruption” and “miscalculation of the case”.

“It is difficult to say, but not because there are no reasons but because a number of reasons are possible. Corruption is one possibility but it can also be a miscalculation or mistaken evaluation of the progress and prospects of the case,” Teodoro said.

In a Manila Standard Today report, Lakmodin Saliao, a former aide of Andal Ampatuan Sr, pinned down Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III and other public prosecutors to have been bribed by the Ampatuan patriarch with a P50 million deal “to ensure the freedom of the Ampatuans.”

“I was with the Ampatuans then. I was the one who personally called Attorney (Sigfred) Fortun to discuss how we can pay off the DOJ panel. That was the instruction of (Andal) Sr. to Attorney Fortun. Attorney Fortun told me that we have P50 million to give to the panel. The P50 million was deposited in the account of Attorney Manaloto, a lawyer of the Ampatuans, and the money will go to the DOJ panel,” said Saliao as quoted in the report.

“(T)he case is in serious danger of not realizing the demand of the victims for justice,” said Teodoro, adding that “the worst possibility is that if that happens it will strengthen the culture of the impunity and will lead to more killings.”

Teodoro said: “I have never been optimistic about the trial given the flaws of the justice system and the culture of corruption that are prevailing in the government’s bureaucracy.”

Teodoro’s appraisal of the handling of the case was a reaction to Baraan’s move “to rest in presenting ‘evidence-in-chief’ against the bail petitioners”.

He believed that the move was “premature”.

The Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists Inc. where CMFR serves as the secretariat, also reacted saying that the move “does not reflect the first in, first out system”.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that “at least ten families of victims of the massacre flew from Mindanao to Manila Wednesday morning to decry the Department of Justice’s handling of the case. The ten families are part of a group of 44 families that are protesting the Justice Department’s decision to rest its presentation of evidence against members of the Ampatuan family for the 2009 Maguindanao massacre where 58 people were murdered. (


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