26 November 2009

VIP Treatment for a Massacre Suspect?

Governor Zaldy Ampatuan
After it was confirmed that 57 were already found dead in the country's deadliest political massacre in modern history, many are wondering why MalacaƱang is not ordering the relief and arrest of main suspect Datu Unsay town Mayor Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., brother of Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan (pictured above, center).

Is it because no cases has yet been filed against him for his alleged involvement or is it because the President herself is not clear on how to deal with a staunch ally who delivered the crucial votes in the 2004 Presidential Elections?

Police authorities think that all pieces of 'evidence' are still not enough to nail down one of the most powerful and feared clans in the southern Philippines. In an interview with GMA News' Chino Gaston in Maguindanao, Chief Superintendent Felicisino Khu said at that stage of their investigation, "no one can be pinpointed [yet]."

Hmmm ... so the backhoe, reportedly used to bury the bodies but abandoned at the crime scene, which belonged to the Maguindanao provincial government is not hard proof enough? Considering that clan patriarch Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr., resigned from his post as Governor in 2001 and replaced by his son, Sajid, any untrained investigator would still train their eye on the former official since the backhoe clearly bore his name.

How about the corroborating statements of four people that Buluan Vice Mayor Ismael "Toto" Mangudadatu claimed to have witnessed the crime? Can't they stand as evidence? What about the alleged call from Genalyn Tiamzon-Mangudadatu, wife of Toto, before she was killed that implicates Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. at the scene of the crime?

Sure, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has taken into custody some people who are now subject to investigation, their firearms will be examined and their fingerprints will be compared with those they have taken in the crime scene. But the average Pinoy doesn’t give a toss about them because they are mere triggermen and not the head-honcho who was responsible for the futile deaths of 57 journalists and civilians, who are mostly women. And if the argument is that they don't have enough evidence three days after the incident, then perhaps they’d be better as utilized street sweepers instead of patrolling the unpaved roads of Maguindanao.

But then again, these police officers are trained to be doctrinally versatile when dealing with allies of MalacaƱang. It really is hard to believe that in the 21st century, Philippines still employ law enforcers who fed on medieval bullshit – and even harder to believe that anyone with an elementary education would be naive and brainless to recognized a worthy evidence staring directly into their eyes.

"We have due process to be observed also, so let us allow the investigators on the ground to come up with [a case] through their investigation," Press Secretary Cerge Remonde replied during an interview over ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda. Does the process also involved a courtesy visit and a chummy conversation with the possible suspects like what you did?

If the Department of Interior and Local Governance (DILG) can easily suspend local executives of Iloilo and Pasig Cities because of a mere administrative cases, there is no reason President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot order the same agency to Ampatuan Jr. from his post as mayor of Datu Unsay town while police are investigating the killings.

The press secretary said President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo herself has repeatedly assured the Mangudadatu family of impartial investigation. He added that Mrs. Arroyo is frequently in touch with the grieving family.

Of course many doubt this will ever happen, not least because the next Presidential Election is just a few months away. But any excuse to increase their ratings while making false promises will do for any politician who craves for more votes cast in favor of their national candidates.