Agra should reconsider earlier decision on Ampatuan case—LP bet

April 26, 2010

Delicadeza and law dictate that Justice Secretary Alberto Agra consider the testimony of the new witness who came forward and positively identified ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan and his brother Akmad as two of the principal masterminds behind the November 23 massacre in Maguindanao.

Liberal Party senatorial candidate Atty. Alex ‘Pinoy’ Lacson likewise urged other possible witnesses to the crime to come forward and help expose the truth. As citizens, Lacson said everyone has the duty to reveal what really happened and who really masterminded the gruesome massacre of 57 people that fateful morning of November 23, 2009 in Datu Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.

Lacson said that as the president’s alter-ego, it is incumbent upon Agra to reconsider his earlier decision dismissing the multiple murder charges against the Ampatuans, stating that even President Arroyo herself already said that his department should take note of the new testimony.

“The palace has already spoken and as the president’s alter-ego, Justice secretary Agra should respond and immediately take the testimony into consideration. I am surprised that Agra insists on his earlier decision.”

Lacson says it is unusual for a department secretary to take a stand contrary to that of the chief executive. Moreover, as justice secretary, it is incumbent upon Agra to consider any new evidence that is put before him. A noted lawyer, Lacson said it is very surprising for the DOJ to reverse an earlier finding on the basis of an alibi. Zaldy Ampatuan claims to have been at the palace when the crime was committed, a weak defense, says Lacson, since it is not enough to establish lack of conspiracy.

In a conspiracy to commit a crime, the principal masterminds need not be at the crime scene when the crime occurred. Presence at the scene is not needed to establish guilt or culpability of the accused. Participation in the planning of the crime, says Lacson, and positive identification of the role of the accused prior to the commission of the offense is sufficient to convict.

“We all know that those twelve cops and Civilian Volunteer Organization members are not the planners nor the masterminds behind the massacre. They probably got orders from their “higher-ups”, a conclusion that is buttressed by the fact that they used government assets in the commission of the massacre. Agra’s primary duty as justice secretary in this instance is only to establish probable cause. I think it is obvious to quite a number of people, including legal experts, that probable cause exists to hold the two Ampatuans for trial,” adds Lacson.

Lacson praised media outlets for coming out and defending the new witness, saying that it takes extraordinary courage and fortitude of spirit to be able to expose the truth.

“I praise the Philippine media for being very vigilant in the face of stiff and powerful opposition. The Ampatuans are very influential. It takes great courage for the new witness to do what he did. Likewise, I urge other people who may have knowledge of the crime to come forward. Do not fear. It is your duty as a citizen of this Republic to help seek justice for those who died on November 23rd. If we do not stop this menace, we will not only earn the disdain of the world, we will also continuously subject ourselves to this kind of violence and abuse of power. Dapat magkaroon ng hustisya dito.