Rebellion raps vs Ampatuans doomed from start – Aquino

Liberal Party standard bearer Sen. Noynoy Aquino yesterday said the rebellion charges against the Ampatuans of Maguindanao were meant to protect them from prosecution and maintain the powerful clan’s alliance with the administration.

“Clearly, the rebellion charges were questionable from the start and were part of this administration’s charade to justify the inexcusable declaration of martial law,” he said in a statement.

“It was a sham declaration intended to protect and not prosecute the allies of Mrs. Arroyo and to confuse the public as to the real crimes of the Ampatuans,” Aquino said.

A Quezon City regional court judge on Monday ordered the release of five members of the clan, who are the main suspects in the massacre of 57 people including lawyers and journalists in Maguindanao last year, after dismissing the rebellion case against them and other supporters.

The accused however remain in detention because they continue to face multiple charges of murder before another Quezon City court.

“The Ampatuan case is just a symptom of the real problem in Mindanao: the proliferation of private armies with the sanction of the Arroyo administration,” Aquino said.

“The fact that the charges were weak to begin with shows that the political alliance is still alive. Before you know it, it will be business as usual for Mrs. Arroyo, the Ampatuans and other politicians who serve her ends,” he pointed out.#