02 December 2009

Justice Acting Secretary Agnes VST Devanadera formed a team of prosecutors to assist the Task Force against Media Killings to swiftly conduct an investigation into the beheading of civilians including members of media who were with a convoy of politicians and their supporters en route to file certificates of candidacy.

“I have ordered the creation of a panel to coordinate with the NBI to immediately conduct an investigation, and likewise ordered the prosecutors of North Cotabato to confer with the victims’ families for them to avail of the benefits under the Victim’s Compensation Program (Board of Claims) and closely coordinate with law enforcement agencies for the case-build up to ensure the expeditious prosecution of all those responsible for this atrocity,” Devanadera stressed.

“The Department of Justice shall expedite the investigation of these cases until the perpetrators are arrested, prosecuted and convicted,” she said.

The Task Force 211 Head Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor will join the DOJ-NBI team and proceed immediately to Maguindanao to supervise the investigation.

Fifty-seven people yesterday were beheaded and shot dead in a remote area in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao. The dead included the wife of a vice mayor, two lawyers and at least 12 reporters.

Reports had it that the military found at least 21 bodies after a band of more than 100 gunmen hijacked a group of supporters of the mayor who were about to file certificates of candidacy. Some of the bodies were buried, and a backhoe used for digging was still in the area when authorities arrived in the place of the incident.

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