State of emergency in Maguindanao stays

By Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 02 2012 02:59 PM | Updated as of Jan 03 2012 07:06 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The state of emergency over Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City won’t be lifted for now, according to Malacañang. Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said that this is due to the request of local government officials there in order to maintain the peace and order.
Lacierda said that the Palace is leaving it to the newly appointed OIC Governor of Maguindanao to assess whether the state of emergency should be lifted.
“The reason why it is not being lifted right now was that it’s still being requested by the local government officials, sa peace and order situation, not necessarily rebellion,” he said.
Meantime, reacting to reports that the Court of Appeals has upheld a Quezon City trial court decision dismissing the rebellion charges against members of the Ampatuan clan, Lacierda said that the basis for the rebellion charges was “weak” from the start, saying that the Ampatuans were close to then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
“Kakampi ng mga Ampatuan si Arroyo e, diba? Isn’t it obvious? How can you even claim rebellion when kaalyado ng mga Ampatuan si Pangulong Arroyo at that time,” he  said.
Lacierda said the government is focused on prosecuting the Maguindanao massacre case, adding that the Palace wants to make sure that those who perpetrated the massacre would be held accountable.
“We have a strong case there… Naniniwala kaming matibay ang kaso laban sa mga Ampatuan,” he said.
He said that while the Palace wants the pace of the trial hastened, it is “totally out” of the hands of the Palace, saying it is “subject to the control and supervision of the courts” and on the parties of the case.