Press Release
April 22, 2010

Aquino: Ampatuans represent failure of Arroyo administration

According to Liberal Party standard bearer Benigno "Noynoy" S. Aquino III, the Ampatuans are but symptoms of a deeper problem: "The failure of the Arroyo administration to implement a comprehensive National Security Policy that focuses on the root causes of war and conflict."

In a forum held last Thursday at the Mandarin Oriental Manila, Aquino spoke before local and foreign journalists and officials from the Department of National Defense and the National Defense College of the Philippines about the state of peace and security in the country.

He tagged the powerful Ampatuan clan, members of which are the primary suspects of the gruesome massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last November, as a symbol of everything that has gone wrong in "Maguindanao, ARMM and other conflict-ridden areas," but puts blame for the country's security woes on the present administration, which "merely paid lip service to the quest for true peace, security and progress."

"For close to a decade, the present administration has wasted opportunities to resolve our internal conflicts and to move this nation forward," Aquino said. "Instead it exploited the conditions spawned by the internecine conflict for political gain."

"It chose to coddle warlords willing to deliver command votes come election time rather than arrest them and implement the law," he added.

Aquino pointed out that the recent dismissal of charges against Zaldy Ampatuan and Akmad Ampatuan came at a "suspicious time," just a few weeks before elections.

Aquino called for an end to patronage politics and to the exploitation of regions as mere sources of votes during elections.

"We must help the people realize the power of their vote," Aquino said. "Let us strengthen their faith in democratic processes and the rule of law. We must enable them to hold their elected leaders accountable for the public trust they have reposed in them."

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