18 July 2015

Palace hopes for speedy Maguindanao massacre case trial
The case against the accused in the Maguindanao massacre case will continue despite the death of former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., a Palace official said.

“The case will proceed, of course, against the others—the other accused—who remain alive,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

“Pagdating lang po dito, kay Andal Ampatuan, Sr., the case will be… Kasi death extinguishes criminal liability,” she told dzRB Radyo ng Bayan noting there are other means to claim for damages.

“But of course, as far as the main case against the other accused are concerned, of course that will proceed.”

As to the timeframe whether the case could be finished within the term of President Aquino, Valte said like the families of the victims and the general public, the President also wants immediate conclusion to the trial.

The government knows the frustrations of the bereaved families of the victims and the President understands it, she said.

“We understand dahil ang daming akusado, parang hindi po lahat ay nahuli at the same time, so iba-iba ho ‘yung takbo ng mga legal proceedings laban po sa mga akusadong ito,” Valte said.

“Kaya naman po, dahil kinikilala ng ating Pangulo ang nararamdaman ng mga pamilya, that’s why the President has given strict orders to the prosecution under the executive to make sure that they remain vigilant against dilatory tactics or against delay.”

Although the President wants a speedy trial, it must be recognized that the verdict in the case will not be handed down by the President but by the presiding judge handling the case.

“So ang ginagawa lang po on the executive side ay siguraduhin na mapabilis po ang kaso sa side natin, at hindi po tayo ang maging cause ng delay, at labanan po natin ‘yung delay na baka ginagawa ng kabilang side,” she said.

Ampatuan, Sr., one of the suspects in the worst case of election-related violence in Philippine history, died on Friday night (July 17), his lawyer said.

He died at about 10:02 p.m. of liver cancer at the National Kidney Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City. PND (as)

Palace pushes passage of Bangsamoro Basic Law anew to improve plight of Muslim Filipinos
A recent survey, showing dismal improvement in the plight of Muslim Filipinos in the country, reinforces the government’s position of attaining enduring peace in Mindanao to bring genuine regional development, a Palace official said.

A new survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) showed 43 percent of Filipinos do not see “much real improvement” in the position of Muslims in the country.

“I think this only confirms the resolve of why we need to have a real, comprehensive solution when it comes to peace and order and security in Mindanao,” Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday.

“Tingin ko hindi naman natin maikakaila na talagang kailangan ng tulong ng mga kababayan natin doon at hindi lang ito ang tulong na iaabot natin, na mabibigyan ng programa, kailangan talaga komprehensibo ang peace solution para sa kanila.”

Valte said she believes that the best solution is the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law to address not only the physical needs of Muslim Filipinos but also the concerns on peace and security.

The survey, conducted from June 5 to 8, showed that 43 percent agreed and 25 percent disagreed that there has not been much real improvement in the position of Muslims in the past few years, for a “moderate” net agreement of +18.

The survey also showed that nearly half, or 47 percent of the 1,200 adult respondents, agreed to make an effort in improving the situation of Muslims even by giving them preferential treatment. PND (as)

Local government units must act swiftly to prevent mining disasters in their areas
The Palace commended the local officials of Baguio for temporarily suspending all small-scale mining operations in their area because of continuous rains, which may result to accidents.

“Magandang balita ang ginawa sa Baguio-La Union kasi nga talagang patuloy ang pag-ulan in that area,” Deputy Presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said in a radio interview on Saturday.

“Kailangan laging maagap ang ating mga local government official na hindi lang ho ‘yung preemptive evacuation ang iniisip natin pero kung mayroon hong presensya ng mga ganyang operasyon diyan ay dapat maging mindful din po ang ating mga pamahalaang lokal.”

Three miners died and six others were missing in Semirara Island when an open-pit coal mine collapsed.

Valte said President Aquino was very concerned when he was informed by the Department of Energy about the Semirara incident.

The DOE, according to Valte acted immediately to suspend the coal mining operations for Contract No. 5 in Semirara.

A thorough investigation is also underway to determine the cause of the accident and make it sure that it won’t happen again in the future, Valte said.

“Kailangang makita kung ano ba ang naging cause nitong insidenteng ito, kung mayroon bang naging pabaya, at kung ano ang mga dapat na gawin para hindi na po maulit ang mga ganitong sitwasyon,” she said.

Semirara Mining and Power Corp., a unit of Consunji-led conglomerate DMCI Holdings, operates the coal mine. PND (as)