Philippines: Malacanang assures speedy prosecution of Maguindanao massacre suspects

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Manila (23 December) -- Presidential Spokesperson on Economic Affairs Gary Olivar said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is exerting all efforts to ensure an impartial and speedy prosecution of the suspects in the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao last Nov. 23.

Olivar disputed claims of unwarranted delays in the conduct of the cases against the Ampatuans, the main suspects in the gruesome massacre. He said "We are confident this investigation will be conducted with the fullest professional conduct by the Department of Justice (DOJ)." "We will take (only) as much time as we need to do this properly for the sake of justice and of the victims."

Olivar added it has always been the policy of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to let the ax fall where it may. He said anybody in the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) found guilty of providing arms and ammunitions to the Ampatuans will be dismissed from service.

"The President has never implemented any other policy other than 'heads will roll' especially for this particular crime," Olivar said.

Olivar said the President also directed government agencies to immediately evacuate residents within the eight-kilometer danger zone of the restive Mayon Volcano.

Olivar also urged the private sector to provide any entertainment for the displaced residents who will spend their Christmas in evacuation centers. (PIA)