10 March 2011

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Add your voice in support of justice for murdered journalists


A group of journalists during a protest outside the Department of Justice in Manila
A group of journalists during a protest outside the Department of Justice in Manila
REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

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(CMFR/IFEX) - 10 March 2010 - In the coming weeks, the Philippines Court of Appeals will be deciding whether Zaldy Ampatuan, the suspected mastermind behind the November 2009 Ampatuan massacre, should be dropped from the list of suspects. The massacre resulted in the brutal murder of 58 men and women including 32 journalists and media workers.

Media groups in the Philippines, including IFEX member Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), are appealing to all concerned individuals and organisations to send a letter to the Court of Appeals ahead of the upcoming decision. Please find a sample letter below.

Statement of the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists, Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and the November 23 Movement:

The Ampatuan Massacre trial has entered a crucial phase. This week, barely two weeks after the 15th month since 58 men and women including 32 journalists and media workers were brutally murdered in one of the worst attacks on democracy and press freedom in Philippine history, the Court of Appeals will be deciding on the petition for certiorari filed by suspended ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao) governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

Should the petition prosper, Mr. Ampatuan will be dropped from the list of those accused of masterminding and carrying out the massacre of November 23, 2009, and will be released from detention. If new evidence is found to once more include him in the conspiracy and multiple murder charges, the process will have to begin all over again. There is also the fear that, like a number of other accused Ampatuans who are still at large, he will manage to avoid arrest.

Mr. Ampatuan filed his petition for certiorari against Alberto Agra, the last Justice Secretary of the Arroyo government. On the basis of the weakest defense against criminal charges, the alibi that he was not in Maguindanao at the time of the massacre, Mr. Ampatuan was dropped by Mr. Agra last year from the list of persons accused of planning the massacre and participation in the killing of the 58 victims. Mr. Agra later reversed himself, and returned the name of Mr. Ampatuan among the accused. Mr. Ampatuan has since filed his petition with the Court of Appeals, alleging abuse of discretion on the part of Mr. Agra for reversing his decision.

We are not prejudging the guilt or innocence of Mr. Ampatuan. Both also assume that the justices of the Court of Appeals will base their decision on the strength and credibility of the evidence Mr. Ampatuan has submitted. But for the significance of the trial and its relevance to Philippine democracy and press freedom, it is imperative that the process be perceived as credible and beyond question.

(. . .)

Signed,

Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists
National Union of Journalists of the Philippines
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
November 23 Movement
Philippine Center for Photojournalism
Center for Community Journalism and Development
College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines

Local organisations working in the Philippines need your help! Use the form below to send a letter to the Philippine Court of Appeals to say that the world is watching the attempt of the Ampatuan lawyers to protect their client from prosecution.

Click here to download the sample letter:
Form_letter.doc (25 KB)


SEND TO:

Court of Appeals
Ma. Orosa St. Ermita, Manila 1000
Tel. No.: (+632) 524-1241 to 52
Email: ca_manila@yahoo.com


CC LETTER TO:

HON. JOSE MIDAS MARQUEZ
Court Administrator
Supreme Court
Padre Faura St., Ermita, 1000 Manila
Tel. No.: (+632) 521-6809 / 523-7385 / 525-1238.
Email: jmpmarquez@sc.judiciary.gov.ph

Public Information Office of the Supreme Court
3rd Floor, New Supreme Court Building Annex
Padre Faura St., Ermita, 1000 Manila
Fax: (+632) 526-8129
Email: pio@sc.judiciary.gov.ph

Please also cc campaigns (@) ifex.org

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More on this case

CMFR statement on 15-month commemoration of Ampatuan Massacre 24 February 2011 International partnership meeting statement 24 November 2010 RSF pays tribute to victims, one year after Maguindanao massacre 24 November 2010 CMFR statement in commemoration of the first anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre 24 November 2010 IFEX remembers Maguindanao massacre on one-year anniversary 22 November 2010 Damning testimony for Ampatuan clan at Maguindanao massacre trial 10 September 2010 Lawyer interviewed as Maguindanao massacre trial resumes 2 September 2010 CPJ meets justice officials, urges anti-impunity policies 25 August 2010 Trial date set for Mindanao massacre trial 20 August 2010 Key witness in Ampatuan massacre case shot dead 24 June 2010 In letter to President-elect Aquino, CPJ calls for launch of probe into circumstances surrounding Maguindanao massacre 10 June 2010 Political interference suspected after charges against alleged masterminds of Maguindanao massacre are dropped 20 April 2010 Accused in Maguindanao massacre to remain in detention despite dismissal of rebellion charges 5 April 2010 Human Rights Watch calls on authorities to protect witnesses to Maguindanao massacre 11 March 2010 "Lest we forget" - Joint CMFR and SEAPA statement on the 100th day of the Ampatuan massacre 5 March 2010 Indictment of nearly 200 in Maguindanao killings a welcome first step 10 February 2010 Toll of media workers killed in massacre rises, attacks continue 20 January 2010 Media restrictions in Ampatuan trial must be lifted, says coalition of Filipino journalists 13 January 2010 Coalition of media groups calls for independent probe into massacre of journalists 9 December 2009 CMFR statement on the killings in Maguindanao 24 November 2009 Twelve reporters among victims of mass killing 23 November 2009
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At this point, would publish cover: "Home page"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "CMFR statement on the killings in Maguindanao"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Largest massacre of journalists ever takes place prior to elections"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Coalition of media groups calls for independent probe into massacre of journalists"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "IFJ international mission demands justice for massacre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Media restrictions in Ampatuan trial must be lifted, says coalition of Filipino journalists"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Toll of media workers killed in massacre rises, attacks continue"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Indictment of nearly 200 in Maguindanao killings a welcome first step"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Lest we forget - Joint CMFR and SEAPA statement on the 100th day of the Ampatuan massacre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Human Rights Watch calls on authorities to protect witnesses to Maguindanao massacre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Accused in Maguindanao massacre to remain in detention despite dismissal of rebellion charges"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Political interference suspected after charges against alleged masterminds of Maguindanao massacre are dropped"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "In letter to President-elect Aquino, CPJ calls for launch of probe into circumstances surrounding Maguindanao massacre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Key witness in Ampatuan massacre case shot dead"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Trial date set for Mindanao massacre trial"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "CPJ meets justice officials, urges anti-impunity policies"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Lawyer interviewed as Maguindanao massacre trial resumes"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Damning testimony for Ampatuan clan at Maguindanao massacre trial"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "IFEX remembers Maguindanao massacre on one-year anniversary"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "CMFR statement in commemoration of the first anniversary of the Ampatuan massacre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "International partnership meeting statement"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "RSF pays tribute to victims, one year after Maguindanao massacre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Massacre victim's family watched by unknown men"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "CMFR statement on 15-month commemoration of Ampatuan Massacre"
At this point, would publish story-with-same-anchor: "Twelve reporters among victims of mass killing"
 
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