Manila – As journalists gathered for a overnight vigil to commemorate the mass murder in a remote town on Mindanao island where 32 members of media covering a politcal candidates filing of candidacy in 2009 – family members filed a cvil claims lawsuit for damages versus embattled former President Gloria Arroyo.
The case filed by human rights lawyer and activist Harry Roque, seeks financail damages versus the formers president and others for allegedly allowing a local politcal clan to build, maintain, and terroriszw local voters and residents with a heavily amred militia.
Victims family members lawyer who is also a private prosecutor in the mass murder case are seeking 15 million pesos ($350,000) in damages. The suit argued that Arroyo was "blind… to a decade of human rights abuses in the region" it alleges further she cultivated ties with the large poltical clan the "Ampatuans, who would prove indispensable to her continued hold on political power."Lawyer Roque said in documents filed in court.
The Ampatuans rose to power in the late 1980’s in Mindanao, while close to Arroyo, they were allies of at least two past Philippine presidents and other political clans, Currently charged for the mass murder of 58 are a former governor of an autonomous Muslim region, and over 100 suspects being tried on murder charges, which occurred two years ago Wednesday.
Arroyo in a case she was arrested on last Friday was booked on charges that she ordered Andal Ampatuan Sr., then a governor of the region and another official to allegedly use thier influence in election fraud some two years before the massacre.
Arroyo had declared martial law in the province and ordered the arrest of the Ampatuans shortly after the killings – but, consequent investigations – revealed a 3,000 man well armed private army of the local political allies now her coaccused in the electoral fraud case.
Arroyo has repeatedly her lawyer say "condemned and denied any participation in the election fraud or the mass murders."
However media groups note much of the aresenal of private army came from government stockpiles and included heavy machine guns, Anti-tank missles, and at least two AFV’s or armousred fighting vechiles given as aid and military assistance by foreign countries