Press Release
April 21, 2010

Villar to Agra: Display 'delicadeza'

Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Manny Villar yesterday demanded that Justice Secretary Alberto Agra show delicadeza in deference to the families and relatives of the 57 people massacred in Maguindanao last November.

"The fact that Secretary Agra's own prosecutors came out in public to denounce his move says a lot about how the government is handling the case. Absolving the two Ampatuans is rubbing salt on the painful wounds left by the massacre on the victims' relatives," Villar said.

"This case is too heinous and too painful to swallow as a people and as a nation. Its memory will not fade away as the perpetrators are hoping," he emphasized.

Agra was severely criticized for absolving Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan and his uncle, Maguindanao Vice Gov. Akmad Ampatuan, of involvement in the Maguindanao massacre.

Those murdered in the heinous incident included journalists and lawyers.

DOJ prosecutors on Tuesday called for a review of Agra's order, saying it convinces "a long skeptical public that our criminal justice system is impotent when the accused are politically influential."

The NP standard-bearer warned the government against seeking a political solution to the case, saying the entire nation will never forgive President Gloria Arroyo and her government for a whitewash of the case.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) had earlier condemned Agra's decision to absolve the two Ampatuans as it welcomed the walkout staged by DOJ prosecutors to protest the decision.

The NUJP also urged Chief State Prosecutor Claro Arellano to "exercise as much zeal in pursuing justice" for the victims of the massacre.

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