MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang is not lifting the proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City anytime soon.
In 2009, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued the proclamation declaring the state of emergency to suppress lawless violence and ease tensions in the area following the Maguindanao massacre.
Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said the declaration will stay to help ensure peace and order in the 2013 elections. He said there has also been no request from local government leaders to lift the state of emergency.
"The state of emergency, as of this briefing, is still in place to ensure peace and order in the area of Maguindanao especially in this coming elections. As you know, Secretary Mar Roxas has already identified Maguindanao as one of the 15 provinces in the priority election watchlist. So that is also being monitored," Lacierda told reporters.
On the eve of the massacre anniversary, Lacierda said the Palace shares the same concerns of the victims' families, among them the delays in the resolution of the case.
He said the Palace has been calling on the judiciary to "expedite" the resolution "without sacrificing due process." He also stressed the Palace is ready to provide them security if needed.
Lacierda is hoping that with Marvic Leonen appointed to the Supreme Court, the judiciary will "find a way" to address the families' concerns, saying Leonen has previously identified "areas of reform" in the judiciary, having been a former University of the Philippines law dean.
"We have time and again made our plea to the judiciary to expedite the process without, of course, sacrificing due process. Hopefully, with the appointment of Justice Marvic Leonen in the Supreme Court, they can find a way to answer the plea of the massacre victims," Lacierda said.
"We certainly know that as long as the case remains unresolved, as long as the case has not yet been decided, there will always be concerns and we share the same concerns as with the massacre victims’ [families]."
Meantime, the Palace finds no problem with candidates with the surname "Ampatuan" running under the Liberal Party.
Lacierda said Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu himself has absolved them of any fault, saying that they do not share the politics of the Ampatuan patriarch.
"Sinabi na nga po ni Governor Mangudadatu na para sa kanya itong mag tatakbo--at least doon sa mga sumali sa LP--hindi nila sinasang-ayunan ang pulitika ng matandang Andal Ampatuan," Lacierda said.