By Ellen Tordesillas
Tingting CojuangcoMargarita "Tingting" Cojuangco, who is running for senator under the United Nationalist Alliance ticket, is lobbying for the dropping of a number of policemen from the list of the accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre where 58 persons were killed, a source closely working in the case, said.
Thirty-two of those killed were media workers.
Next month, Nov. 29, the media community and those who value the role of a free press in democracy, will mark the third anniversary of the tragedy that earned for the Philippines the notorious tag of being one of the three most dangerous places in the world for journalists. We share the ignominious label with war-torn countries Iraq and Somalia.
Three years have passed and the victims have not yet been rendered justice.
And here's Cojuangco, aunt of the President Aquino, lobbying for those involved in the massacre.
The source said the policemen that Cojuangco is helping were those who manned the checkpoints that blocked the convoy of the wife of now Maguindanao Governor Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu.
Cojuangco presents herself as a Muslim expert. She had wanted to run as vice-governor for the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao if the election had not been postponed.
During the Arroyo administration, she was president of the Philippine Public Safety College whose mandate is to provide preparatory education and training of the three uniformed bureaus of the Department of the Interior and Local Government namely, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology.
We surmise her ARMM and PPSC connections have something to do with her lobbying for the accused policemen. Or does it have something to do with May 2013 elections? Will she be using those policemen for her campaign?
Actually, it's not only Cojuangco who is lobbying for the dropping from the list of certain persons from the list of the accused. Another senatorial candidate who is with the administration ticket is also doing the same for another accused because he was one of his political leaders in Maguindanao.
Originally there were 197 accused in the Maguindanao massacre case, something that many legal minds said was unwise as the long list of defendants make for an unwieldy trial.
Sen. Joker Arroyo had said that with this many defendants and some 300 witnesses," it will take 200 years to finish this because even one defendant can delay the proceedings."
Identified as masterminds of the massacre are former Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr.; his son, Datu Unsay town mayor Andal Jr.; and another son, former ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan.
An aide of Andal Ampatuan Sr., Norie Unas, who was allegedly part of the planning and subsequent cover-up of the massacre, was not included among those accused. He is now under the Witness Protection Program as state witness against Gloria Arroyo in the 2007 election sabotage case.
The list of defendants is now 195. Police Officer 1 Johann Draper was dropped from the case last week while PO2 Hernanie Decipulo died last February after he allegedly jumped from the fourth floor of the detention building in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
As election nears, influential people in Maguindanao are expected to use their political machinery for the freedom of some of their relatives and supporters involved in the massacre. It is hoped that justice for the victims is not sacrificed.***
I tried to get Mrs. Cojuangco's side last Saturday .She texted me back, "Pls C your email."
I checked my email and there was no message from Mrs. Cojuangco. I texted her again and gave my email address.She replied: Luk at ur email and paper.
There was nothing from her in last Friday's paper. Malaya has no issue Saturdays and Sundays.
I texted her again asking her if she had sent anything. Since I couldn't find it, I asked her to resend it. She replied: "U luk 4 it in ur paper's leter 2 the editor."
Yesterday, I asked Malaya's editorial assistant if there was any letter from Mrs. Cojuangco. She looked and looked for it and there was none.