Press Release
April 22, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's order to the Department of Justice to study the revocation of the bail of Moro National Liberation founding chairman Nur Misuari is nothing but a ploy to divert attention from the furor over her administration's move to drop murder charges against two members of the Ampatuan clan in connection with the Nov. 23 massacre of 57 innocent civilians in Maguindanao.

"Mrs. Arroyo's order is a blatant attempt to divert attention away from the brouhaha created by her administration boys from the murder of 57 innocent victims on Nov. 23, 2009 and other serious offenses like maintaining a private army, illegally possessing high-powered weapons that were owned by the armed forces, and possibly for unexplained wealth arising from possible misuse of government funds," Pimentel said.

"It's one big smokescreen to cover up her tracks to absolve the Ampatuans from any criminal liability."

The President ordered the DOJ to study the possible cancellation of Misuari's bail and his rearrest on rebellion charges after he wrote a letter to the Organization of Islamic Conference criticizing the Arroyo administration for allegedly failing to implement the 1996 peace agreement between the government and MNLF.

Pimentel said the President's alleged order is ridiculous specially in the light of media reports that Misuari and a government representative signed an agreement Tripoli, Libya a few days ago in a bid to pursue ways to implement the peace accord.

Pimentel described as highly suspicious the ruling of Justice Secretary Alberto Agra absolving Zaldy Ampatuan, suspended governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and his cousin, Akmad Ampatuan, mayor of Mamasapano, Maguindanao, from the Maguindanao carnage.

He said Agra's ruling contradicts the position of Agnes Devanadera when she was the justice secretary that there was evidence linking Zaldy to the crime.

"Now the evidence appears to have evaporated. So apparently have the hundreds of firearms, millions of pesos, pieces of election paraphernalia and a thousand and one items that had been taken by government authorities in various raids of the Ampatuan palaces in Maguindanao," the senator said.

"Where are those pieces of evidence? Who has possession of them? Have they been audited by honest and credible persons? What are the results of the auditing? These should be made public."

Otherwise, Pimentel said the impression that will remain is that some people in power took those items as "booties of war", finders' keepers kind of thing.

He said that only the small fry - policemen, and a Civilian Volunteer Organization member seem to be set up for trial and conviction for the gruesome crime.

"This is not what democratic governance is all about. It's is a sad commentary on the state of law and order and justice in the country," he said.

Pimentel said Agra himself should be investigated by the Ombudsman, if not by the incoming Senate.

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