World | Philippines

Arroyo not liable for political killing of 58 people in Maguindanao in 2009

Former President cleared of responsibility for the killings, most of which were journalists

  • By Barbara Mae Dacanay, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 15:00 February 4, 2013
  • Gulf News

Manila: Former President Gloria Arroyo, who became a congresswoman in 2010, was cleared of command responsibility in the killing of 58 people, most of them journalists, by a powerful political family that targeted its political rival in the south in November 2011, prior to the May 2010 elections, a local paper said.

There was no evidence shown that Arroyo should be held liable for criminal negligence in the killings by the family of former Maguindanao Governor Datu Unsay Ampatuan, of family members and political allies of former town mayor Esmael Toto Mangudadatu in Maguindanao in November 2009, said the Manila’s prosecutors’ office which was reported by the Star.

As president of the Philippines, Arroyo was also commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces.

“There is no evidence presented to show criminal negligence on the part of the respondent. The allegations made are more of generalisations and conclusions without supporting proof to show personal culpability of the respondent,” said the court’s one page resolution that was written by Senior Assistant City Prosecutor Raymunda Cruz-Apolo.

It was in reply to Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) vice gubernatorial candidate Marconi Abdul Aziz Paiso who filed the complaint against Arroyo.

Arroyo’s “inaction, ignorance and perhaps tolerance [of the Ampatuans] have fuelled the tense political situation [in Maguindanao at the time],” Paiso said.

Meanwhile, 15 family members of the murder victims have already filed a complaint against Arroyo.

Arroyo allegedly allowed the Ampatuans to use the military and policemen as members of their private armies (who eventually participated in the killing in Maguindanao last November), said the group’s lawyer Harry Roque.

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