Wednesday, July 13, 2011

On the ill-founded allegations of Harry Roque

The Black & White Movement is very disappointed in Harry Roque. Mr. Roque quite well knows that talk is cheap. And that lawyers salivating for the limelight are quite capable of spinning things in the media for their own purposes, not to mention playing fast and free with the facts and even the lives of others.

As the conscientious prosecutors, in their letter subsequently endorsed by Nena Santos, lawyers for the Mangudadatu family, pointed out, "The panel of prosecutors and the WPP and the rest of the private prosecutors enjoy a close working relationship. It is Atty. Roque¹s belligerent attitude to the DOJ (not just to the Secretary of Justice) that is the obstacle to a complete harmony between public and private prosecution."

It is therefore highly unfortunate that the ones in synch, now, are the lawyers of Zaldy Ampatuan and Roque, for both are indulging in sweeping allegations without benefit of any substantiation. Both are reprehensible for introducing political color into what should be the stern, implacable, quest for justice.

Justice demands that those responsible for the mass murder that took place in Maguindanao be punished. The Black & White Movement believes that the administration has been uncompromising in this. All concerned citizens are uncompromising in their expectation that justice will be done.

It is not necessary to malign without basis those in the Cabinet who are working so hard to make the justice system work. We all have the highest expectation that the Cabinet will fulfill its responsibilities to our people. DILG Sec. Jesse Robredo’s job is to ensure the security of the accused, and to ensure the police do its part in the investigation of the case; the DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima is committed to the successful prosecution of the accused. But all these must be proven not with hearsay, but solid facts. After all, we should never forget that the accountability of the Ampatuans includes a plethora of crimes, from mass murder to plunder and electoral chicanery.

It is irresponsible for Roque to cast aspersions without the benefit of evidence. The claim that certain members of the Cabinet are partial to the Ampatuan clan is baseless and malicious. We must remind Roque that PCDSPO Sec. Ricky Carandang was threatened by the very Ampatuans Roque claims he is palsy with during the 2007 elections. Furthermore, we are aware that Sec. Edwin Lacierda was asked by Mrs. Myrna Reblando, widow of massacre victim Bong Reblando, to represent their family. It was unfortunate that Sec. Lacierda had to decline due to his being spokesperson for then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. It is a cheap shot to include Sec. Ging Deles just because she happens to head OPAPP.

Moreover, it is important to note that President Benigno S. Aquino III stated that Zaldy Ampatuan has offered to provide testimony without preconditions or in exchange for any consideration: but it is up to government to determine the use, if any, of the purported evidence being offered. What is clear is that the President is focused on the need to secure accountability, to achieve justice, and to abide fully with the law.

Having been chastised by the conscientious prosecutors in the past, we would expect Roque to be more responsible and diligent with his research, before he grandstands before the media and plays fast and free with the emotions of victims' families and the public. The cases have prospered thus far, not because of Roque, but because of those who have stood their ground, pursued the case with zeal and determination, and who know that the surest way to achieve justice is through effective, thorough, marshalling of the facts and knowledge of the law, and not by substituting hard work with sensationalistic sound bites.

Good sound bites may bring Harry Roque the media attention he craves. But sensationalism will not serve the ends of justice we all long for. - END

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