Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Ampatuan 'jail party' earns ire of victims' kin: ABS-CBN

MANILA, Philippines - Relatives of some of the victims in the November 23 massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on Tuesday urged president-elect Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III to appoint a new secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government following news that suspects in the massacre were allowed to throw a party inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

In a statement, relatives of 14 victims in the massacre condemned reports that the Ampatuans were allowed to throw a party for guests including children inside the maximum security prison last Saturday.

Atty. Harry Roque, who represents the 14 victims, said "the special treatment" lavished on the Ampatuans started after authorities refused a petition to transfer the suspects to the Quezon City Jail.

There are currently 6 members of the Ampatuan family detained at Camp Bagong Diwa: Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr.; his father, Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr.; his brother, suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan; and relatives Mamasapano Mayor Akmad Ampatuan, former acting Maguindanao Gov. Sajid Ampatuan, and Shariff Aguak Mayor Anwar Ampatuan.

"It has become apparent that it is these special detention facilities that breed the kind of VIP treatment that they have been getting," Roque said.

A news report earlier said the Ampatuans ordered fastfood and played loud music for guests during a party inside the prison last Saturday.

Roque said that aside from the party, the warden of the Taguig Detention Center also allowed Andal Jr., the main suspect in the massacre that killed 57 people, to conduct a press conference right inside the jail last April.

"Enough is enough. Our victims now call on incoming President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to appoint only a Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government who can promise an end to the special treatment accorded to the Ampatuans and that they should hence be detained in the Quezon City Jail where they rightfully belong. This Secretary, whoever he or she maybe, should also promise that all will be done to prevent the flight of any of them from the Quezon City jail," the lawyer said.

He added that the new DILG secretary should ensure that Ampatuans' "happy days" are now over after their last party.

Roque said he will file a motion to cite the jail warden and other officials for contempt of court. He said he will also file separate administrative and criminal charges against them for dereliction of duty.

Roque said it was not true that all inmates are "entitled to hold lavish parties in jail."

"This privilege is accorded only to the rich and powerful. The decision to allow them to hold a party is not only a gross insult to the victims of the country’s worse massacre, it also sends the message that those who massacre, when they are rich and with political connections, can have lavish party even as they are already under detention for the possible commission of a heinous crimes. This is a tried and tested formula for impunity of the kind that we precisely have in this country," he said. (ABS-CBN)

Link: http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/regions/06/08/10/ampatuan-jail-party-earns-ire-victims-kin

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