Sunday, 25 April 2010

rroyo backs families of massacre victims

Manila Bulletin

Press Secretary Crispulo Icban Jr. has reiterated the government’s commitment to the families of the Maguindanao massacre victims that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will rally behind their quest for justice.

He gave the assurance during the nightfall indignation rally on Friday which was organized by the Malacañang Press Corps (MPC) at the Don Chino Roces Bridge (formerly Mendiola Bridge).

Huwag kayong mawawalan ng pag-asa at habang ako ay nandiyan, makaka-asa kayo ng aking tulong. Nasa likod ninyo ako at ang ating Pangulo,” Icban told the families and relatives of the victims during the rally. (Don’t lose hope. As long as I am there (as press secretary) you will have my support. The President is behind you.”

He said his heart goes with the family of the victims, citing that among those slain was his General Santos City-based reporter, Bong Reblando. Icban was the editor-in-chief of the Manila Bulletin prior to his post as Mrs. Arroyo’s press secretary.

The Press Secretary said he had a conversation with General Santos City-based Reblando shortly before the tragic incident.

Malacañang Press Corps president Paolo Romero, a senior reporter of the Philippine Star, said the rally served as reminder to the government that the MPC is keenly watching the status of the Ampatuan case.

President Arroyo has ordered Justice Secretary Alberto Agra to submit a weekly status report on the Ampatuan case, rejecting reports that Agra has resigned from his post.

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said the President, who wanted the immediate resolution of the case, tasked Agra to regularly report the status and to immediately submit his recommendation in the wake of ouster calls against him.

There was already a motion for reconsideration appealing to scrap Agra’s earlier decision.

Mendoza said Agra and his panel will be carrying out the earlier directive of Malacañang ordering the acting Justice secretary to review with state prosecutors his move to scrap the multiple murder charges against Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and Maguindanao Vice Governor Akmad Ampatuan in connection with the November 23 massacre of 57 people, including 32 journalists in Maguindanao. He said the review will be done in conjunction with the motion for reconsideration filed by the lawyers of the victims.

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