The admission of suspended ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan into the Philippine Heart Center for a medical checkup highlights the need for heightened vigilance against attempts to subvert the arduous search for justice for those who perished in the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre.
This is especially so since, even before Ampatuan could reach the hospital, his lawyer, Firdausi Abbas, was already floating the possibility that his client’s attending physicians might find him ill enough to warrant “hospital arrest.”
We hope we are proven wrong but we cannot help but suspect that Abbas’ statement is an indication that efforts to ensure Ampatuan does not return to the detention center in Camp Bagong Diwa are already underway.
We cannot help but note the irony that hospital arrest, which was used to keep the late labor leader and lawmaker Crispin Beltran incarcerated, may be invoked this time to help Ampatuan evade continued detention.
We cannot help but suspect that this could be part of what some quarters have called the “grand scheme” to let Ampatuan off the hook on the 57 counts of murder he is facing for the massacre in exchange for testimony that will help feed this administration’s obsession with prosecuting former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
By all means, President Benigno Aquino III should pursue all avenues to bring his predecessor to account for everything she has done against our country and people, including the unsurpassed record of 104 journalists – including our 32 colleagues who died in the massacre – murdered with impunity during her nine years in power.
But, we reiterate, this administration should not sacrifice the search for justice for the massacre victims on the altar of political expediency.
We call on our colleagues in media and on the Filipino people to keep close watch and stand united to ensure that this bloody page in our history shall not end in a travesty of justice.