Appeal for Key Suspect in Philippines Massacre Trials Rejected


International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) in welcoming a Court of Appeals decision rejecting

the exclusion from trial of one of the main suspects in the Ampatuan Town




Ampatuan, a key suspect in the massacre of 58 people, including 32 media

workers, on November 23, 2009 in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines, filed

a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Court of Appeals in relation to

the charges against him.



petition concerned a decision by Acting Justice Secretary Alberto Agra in April

2010 which found no probable cause for Ampatuan to be considered a suspect in

the massacre case. Agra

later overturned the decision following a public outcry by families of the

massacre victims and press freedom activists.


With the

Court of Appeals ruling on November 8, the NUJP

says “there is no longer any reason to further delay the

indictment” of Ampatuan and his co-accused.



two years after the worst atrocity ever committed against media workers, the

victims’ families, colleagues and press freedom defenders eagerly await justice

for those brutally murdered in the massacre,” IFJ

Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.


“The IFJ

sincerely hopes that proceedings in these trials can now be allowed to continue



The trials

of the 197 suspects in the massacre have been frustrated by Zaldy Ampatuan’s

appeal and a request

for a transfer to “hospital

arrest”, after being admitted to the Philippine Heart Center for a medical

check up.


In July, Philippines

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima rejected Zaldy

Ampatuan’s offer to act as a state witness and testify against his alleged

co-conspirators. Ampatuan, the suspended governor of

the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), sought to beremoved

from the list of suspects in exchange for testimony against his father,

Andal Ampatuan Sr, and brother Andal Ampatuan Jr.



joins the NUJP in calling for the

prompt arraignment of Zaldy Ampatuan and all other suspects awaiting

indictment. Only 93 of the 197 suspects are in custody, and to date only 64

have been arraigned. Of the six members of the Ampatuan

clan accused as principals, only two – Andal Sr. and Andal Jr. – have been



The NUJP and other press freedom groups in the Philippines will stage several events to commemorate

the second anniversary of the massacre on November 23, including a march to Mendiola,

near Malacañang Presidential Palace in Manila.


For further

information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific

on +612 9333 0919



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