Two Ampatuans Cleared Of Charges

In the Philippines, the Department of Justice has dropped the charges against two members of the Ampatuan clan who were previously implicated in the Maguindanao massacre.

One senator lambasted the action of Justice Secretary Alberto Agra as pure hogwash. Others suspected it was done in exchange for votes for President Macapagal-Arroyo’s candidates in the May 10 elections, while one lawyer said it proved the victims of the massacre would not get justice under the present administration.

A Roman Catholic Church official, Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, said one could not help but suspect “a collusion” between the administration and the Ampatuans.

The protests were sparked by Agra’s order to state prosecutors to drop the murder indictments against Zaldy Ampatuan, the suspended governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and Mayor Akmad Ampatuan Sr.

The two officials are among 197 people facing charges of murder for the massacre of 57 people—including 32 media workers—in an ambush in Maguindanao province in November last year.

A total of 23 members of the Ampatuan clan have been charged with murder. Six of them are now detained, including the patriarch, Andal Sr., and his sons—Andal Jr., Zaldy and Sajid, who is acting governor of Maguindanao.

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