maguindanao massacre: martial law may give the ampatuans free instead of gravest punishment
we will be running a series of posts in this blog that will look into the governments action against the ampatuans in connection with the maguindanao massacre.
we will be picking up relevant quotations from news articles to collapse them into a whole.
Rebellion can be a defense against murder charges.
Other senators warned that the imposition of martial law could exonerate the Ampatuans from their involvement in the massacre of 57 people in the province on Nov. 23 because of warrantless arrests and seizures.
Gordon said Congress’ endorsement of Presidential Proclamation No. 1959 would provide the perpetrators of the massacre with a way to escape the heavier penalty for murder by embracing the rebellion charges.
Rebellion charges carry lighter penalties, he noted.
Gordon said the government might be letting others get away with the worst crimes and the worst penalty by claiming that the Ampatuans were engaged in rebellion.
“The scope of martial law is sweeping, and if this issue gets buried over time, they can be pardoned for their rebellion,” Gordon said.
“Aren’t we making a mistake? … (A)s a lawyer, I know that if we declare martial law is valid, and the suspension of habeas corpus is valid, and even if we charge them with multiple murders, Mayor Ampatuan and his lawyer will say Congress has declared martial law as valid, therefore, we are rebels,” Gordon said.
“And because we are rebels, you can only charge us with rebellion,” the senator said.
“The government is bungling the case. The evidence seized illegally cannot be used against the Ampatuans. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the right against illegal searches and seizure is suspended,” he said.
Martial law does not suspend the Bill of Rights, Pangilinan said.
In a statement, the FSGO aired concerns that the steps being taken by the government under martial law might be “successfully challenged” in the Supreme Court and eventually “allow the murderers to go scot-free” on technicalities.
“While seemingly answering the public clamor for justice for the victims, the Arroyo administration may be laying the foundation for justice to be denied,” the FSGO said. “It was murder in Mindanao, not rebellion. Being staunch allies of the Arroyo administration, it is incredible for the Maguindanao leaders to go against that administration,” it said.