Saturday, December 12, 2009

Arroyo lifts martial law in Maguindanao
First Posted 16:17:00 12/12/2009

Filed Under: Maguindanao Massacre, Martial Law

Original Story:

MANILA, Philippines—(UPDATE 2) President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has lifted martial law in Maguindanao province, a senior MalacaƱang official announced Saturday.

“In view of the accomplishments of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the habeas corpus under Proclamation 1959, the Cabinet has recommended the lifting of martial law and which the President has approved,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita told a news conference following a meeting with Arroyo and her Cabinet.

Ermita said the President met her top security advisers earlier Saturday and the meeting concluded that the government had achieved its main objectives in Maguindanao province, which was placed under martial rule on December 4 following an election-linked massacre left 57 people dead.

Ermita said there are five areas that became the bases for the President’s decision to lift martial law as contained in the joint report of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Quoting from the AFP-PNP report, Ermita said:

• Rebellion and multiple murder charges were filed against the suspects who are now in the custody of authorities.
At least three people have been charged with multiple murder and 24 others for rebellion before the courts. At least 247 facing multiple murder charges were referred to the Department of Justice by the PNP and 638 for rebellion.

• Fifty-two arrests have been made for the charge of rebellion; 128 members of civilian volunteer organizations have surrendered, and 399 others in the custody of authorities.

• Clearing of “rebel positions” in several towns in Maguindanao by the police and military.

• That the criminal justice system was in place and working; and

• Restoration to normalcy of the local government units, starting with the appointment of Vice Governor Ansarrudin Adiong of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as acting governor.

The security forces said the martial law regime, which empowered them to arrest suspects without court orders, has allowed them to take into custody many of the suspects in the November 23 massacre. The detained suspects were all relatives or supporters of Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

His son Andal Ampatuan Jr. has been charged with multiple counts of murder for allegedly ordering the kidnapping and subsequent shooting of 57 people including journalists and relatives of the clan's local rival Buluan Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.

Mangudadatu has alleged the killings were carried out to prevent him running against the younger Ampatuan for governor of Maguindanao next year.

The elder Ampatuan was among 24 people separately charged with rebellion later. With a report from Agence France-Presse

Original Story:

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