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Posts Tagged ‘Philippine’

Philippine President welcomed in Vietnam

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2010 at 5:35 am




Philippine President welcomed in Vietnam


QĐND – Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 21:15 (GMT+7)

State President Nguyen Minh Triet received President of the Philippines, Benigno S. Aquino III, on October 26, for his first official visit to Vietnam from October 26-27, to attend the 17th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Hanoi.


Philippine Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Alberto G.Romulo; Secretary of Finance Cesar, V.Purisima; Secretary of Trade and Industry, Gregory L.Domigo; Secretary of National Defense, Voltaire T.Gazmin; and other senior officials also accompanied the President.


Both Presidents then held a meeting and affirmed to strengthen diplomatic ties and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, especially in economics, trade, and investment as well as regional and international issues of mutual concern.


Vietnam and the Philippines have spared no effort to strength their relationship through many exchange visits and by working together closely at regional and global forums.


Source: VOV/VNA


Source: QDND

35 dead in Philippine bus accident

In Uncategorized on August 18, 2010 at 7:25 am

BAGUIO, Philippines, Aug 18, 2010 (AFP) – Thirty-five people were killed when a packed passenger bus plunged into a deep ravine in the northern Philippines on Wednesday, rescuers said.


The bus, carrying 47 people, had just left the mountain resort city of Baguio, about 200 kilometres (120 miles) north of Manila, when its brakes failed, local fire chief Senior Superintendent Richard Villanueva told AFP.


National police spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz told reporters the 35 people were confirmed dead.


“Six other passengers were rescued seriously injured and unconscious, while the rest (were) rescued with injuries,” he said.


Road accidents, often involving old buses and careless drivers, are common in the Philippines.


Fifteen people were killed last month when a bus slammed into a concrete wall in Cebu, the Philippines’ second biggest city.

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Source: SGGP

Benigno Aquino III sworn in as Philippine leader

In Uncategorized on July 1, 2010 at 2:30 pm

 Benigno Aquino III was sworn in Wednesday as the Philippines’ 15th president, leading a Southeast Asian nation his late parents helped liberate from dictatorship and which he promises to deliver from poverty and pervasive corruption.


Hundreds of thousands of people, many of them clad in his yellow campaign color, applauded and yelled his nickname “Noynoy” as Aquino took his oath before a Supreme Court justice at Manila’s seaside Rizal Park.


Vice President Jejomar Binay was sworn in before Aquino took his oath in the nationally televised ceremonies that resembled a music concert, with celebrity singers and an orchestra belting out nationalist and folk songs. Yellow confetti rained from two helicopters.


Aquino, wearing a native formal shirt and speaking in Tagalog, promised to fight corruption, particularly in the notoriously graft-ridden bureaus of customs and internal revenues. He pledged to bring a new era of good governance, reforms and a bureaucracy that will be sensitive to the plight of the common folk.


“Today our dreams start to become a reality,” Aquino said. “It’s the end of a leadership that has long been insensitive to the suffering of the people.”


In a widely-applauded portion of his speech, Aquino said he also suffered in the past like ordinary Filipinos when he got stuck in heavy traffic as convoys with loud sirens and carrying powerful people breezed by. “No more wang-wang,” he said, referring to the local word for blaring sirens.


Addressing his new justice secretary, Leila de Lima, Aquino ordered her to deliver “true and complete justice to all.”


The rise of Aquino, a low-key legislator and son of democracy icons, reflects the Filipinos’ longing for moral and political renewal. Outgoing leader President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s stormy nine-year rule saw four failed power grabs and opposition impeachment bids against her over allegations of vote-rigging, corruption and rights abuses.


The Cabinet he unveiled Tuesday has mostly allies and defectors from Arroyo’s government. Aquino said he would immediately form an independent commission to investigate corruption allegations against Arroyo and other scandals under her term after taking power.


“They will as necessary prepare and prosecute the cases to make sure those who committed crimes against the people will be made to pay,” Aquino said, adding the commission will be headed by a respected retired chief justice, Hilarion Davide.


Arroyo has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing. Aquino’s campaign promise to investigate Arroyo has been seen as a potential political flashpoint early in his six-year term.


The new president and his mother, the late former President Corazon Aquino, had called on Arroyo to resign. Arroyo, Aquino’s former economics professor, still enjoys considerable support and won a seat in the House of Representatives in the May 10 election.


Aquino’s late parents are revered for their opposition to the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was ousted by a 1986 “people power” revolt. Considered a political lightweight, the 50-year-old bachelor’s landslide elections victory has been attributed by analysts to his family name and anti-corruption platform.


Aquino has also anchored his campaign on restoring the credibility of the judiciary and Congress, which he says have been seriously eroded under Arroyo’s rule.


The Philippines has been grappling with poverty, corruption, armed conflicts and deep divisions for decades. On the eve of his rise to the presidency, Aquino said he felt anxious but confident the millions who voted him will back him to confront those problems.


A third of the population lives on a dollar a day, and about 3,000 Filipinos leave daily for jobs abroad. Aquino has also expressed alarm at the ballooning national budget deficit, which he said could surpass $8.7 billion (400 billion pesos) this year.

Source: SGGP

Aquino wins Philippine presidential election

In Uncategorized on June 8, 2010 at 10:33 am

MANILA, June 8, 2010 (AFP) – Benigno Aquino was declared the winner of the Philippine presidential elections on Tuesday, nearly a month after voters went to the polls embracing his pledge to fight corruption and ease deep poverty.


Following a drawn-out vote tallying process, parliament finally released the complete count showing the 50-year-old son of democracy heroes had won the May 10 elections in a landslide.

Incoming Philippine president Benigno Aquino smiles next to the portraits of his late parents, former president Corazon Aquino (L) and the senator Benigno Aquino Jnr (R), during a press conference at his residence in Manila on June 7, 2010. AFP photo

Aquino secured just over 15.2 million votes, or nearly 42 percent of the total number cast for the most emphatic victory in modern Philippine political history, according to the results released by legislators.


Former president Joseph Estrada finished well back in second place, more than 4.7 million votes behind.


Parliament is set to officially proclaim Aquino the winner on Wednesday.


He will take over from outgoing President Gloria Arroyo, who will step down on June 30 as one of the nation’s most unpopular leaders in modern Philippine politics after nearly a decade in power.


Aquino achieved his historic victory on a promise to tackle the corruption and poverty that has plagued the Southeast Asian nation for decades and he said thrived under Arroyo’s rule.


“I want to lead by example. We talk about corruption. I did make a public vow, I will never steal,” Aquino told AFP in an interview a day after the elections.


Just as importantly, Aquino cleverly tapped into the enormous public support for his parents, who remain revered for their efforts in ending the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.


His father, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, was shot dead in 1983 at Manila airport as he returned from US exile to lead the democracy movement against Marcos.


His mother, Corazon Aquino, took over from her martyred husband and led the “People Power” revolution that eventually toppled Marcos in 1986. She then served as president for six years.


Aquino, an economics graduate and bachelor, had served for the past 12 years as a low-key member of parliament.


His critics sought to portray him as an uncharismatic leader who had accomplished little in his political career, and he admitted to not having presidential ambitions until his mother died of cancer in August last year.


However her death unleashed a massive outpouring of support for the family, a defining moment that he said convinced him to run for the presidency.


Aquino represents the Liberal Party, one of the nation’s oldest that was once led by his mother and father.


However the party suffered a major setback in the elections — with its pick for vice presidency, Mar Roxas, losing after leading in opinion surveys for most of the campaign.


Estrada’s running mate, Jejomar Binay, came from behind to win the vice presidential contest and could now potentially be a destabilising force for Aquino.


The Liberal Party will also not have a majority in either house of parliament.


Arroyo’s Lakas Kampi CMD will remain a powerful force in parliament, and the outgoing president won a seat in the lower house where she could lead opposition to Aquino’s reform agenda.


Aside from fighting corruption, Aquino has said improving the economy and bridging the enormous wealth divide will be among his top priorities in government.


A third of the more than 90 million Filipinos live on less than a dollar a day, and job opportunities are so bad that nine million people work abroad.


Aquino has vowed to boost foreign investment, rein in wasteful government spending, improve the civil service and invest in education.


Aquino has conceded it will take more than the six years that the constitution sets for presidential terms to carry out his social transformation of the Philippines.


“But we are hoping to provide that impetus and momentum to carry over into the next administration,” he told AFP in last month’s interview.

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Source: SGGP

One dead in first Philippine election day killing

In Uncategorized on May 10, 2010 at 4:52 am

A supporter of a local politician in the southern Philippines was shot dead on Monday, becoming the first person to be killed in poll-related violence on the day of national elections, police said.


The man, a cousin of the vice governor in North Cotabato province, was gunned down while riding on a motorcycle before polls opened on Monday morning, regional police said in a statement.


He and another man on the motorbike were ambushed in Kidapawan town, according to the statement. The other man was wounded but his injuries were not life threatening.


Police said they suspected the gunmen were supporters of a rival candidate.


About 40 million Filipinos were expected to go to the polls on Monday to elect more than 17,000 positions from the president down to town councilor.


Violence always plagues elections in the Philippines, with local politicians often using gunmen to eliminate rivals’ challenges or intimidate voters.

Philippine soldiers wait for their turn to vote at a military camp in Fort Bonifacio, southern Manila.

Monday’s killing brings to at least 30 the number of people killed in political violence over the past four months, according to police statistics.


This does not include 57 people massacred in the southern Maguindanao province in November last year, allegedly by a powerful Muslim clan to stop a rival from running for provincial governor.


Thousands of troops were in place on Monday in Maguindanao, but there were still outbursts of violence.


Suspected armed followers of a local warlord fired mortar shells at election officials and their military escorts before dawn Monday, provincial police chief superintendent Alex Lineses said.


The military fired back with their own mortars that sent the armed men fleeing, said Lineses. There were no reports of casualties.

Source: SGGP

Empty promises, vote-buying in Philippine slums

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2010 at 4:37 am

Colourful campaign banners hanging from decrepit cardboard walls lend a lively contrast to the filth of Manila’s North Triangle slum as a candidate presses dirty palms for crucial votes.

Facts on the May 10 Philippines’ national elections. Philippine election officials have insisted that next week’s polls will go ahead, amid frantic efforts to replace more than 70,000 faulty memory cards that were to be used in vote counting machines.

As the politician’s yellow-clad volunteers spread leaflets around, community organiser Teodosia Gacer ambushes them with a list of what she claims are undelivered promises to the slum’s more than 30,000 residents.


“We have not seen you around here since the last election three years ago — when we helped you win!,” Gacer tells the sweating politician, who is obviously embarrassed as a small crowd gathers around.


“You people only come here whenever you need our votes, but disappear on us once you win.”


The politician stammers an apology, and whips out a two-page resolution he authored temporarily stopping an impending eviction as proof he had been working on their behalf after all.


Squatting under the shadow of a huge mall and the Philippine capital’s overhead railway, the 37-hectare (91-acre) North Triangle in suburban Quezon city is one among many sprawling shanty towns blighting the metropolis.


About 35 percent of Manila’s 12-million population live in these colonies, according to the World Health Organization.


Often cursed as a haven for petty criminals and outcasts, these slums are rich in votes and turn into a political force during election season that could make or break a candidate’s career.


Politicians have been braving the slums weeks ahead of Monday’s national election, when 50 million voters are eligible to pick a new president, members of congress and thousands of other government posts.


In North Triangle, candidates kiss the cheeks of babies swathed in dirty clothes and mingle with men stroking the feathers of their fighting cocks.


“We allow them to come here and hang their campaign materials, regardless of party affiliation. But of course, we vote for those who can protect us,” Gacer told AFP.


“Others vote for those who bring blessings,” she said, using a euphemism for monetary bribes offered by candidates.


A 54-year-old mother of two adult children, Gacer heads a non-profit organisation that provides basic services and conducts voter education campaigns for North Triangle residents.


She said it was no secret that many slum dwellers sold their votes because money remained their only tangible and immediate benefit.


“The political strategy of (candidates’) coordinators is to go on last-minute house to house on the eve of elections,” Gacer said.


“They will knock and go inside homes to make sure they get their votes. They place money inside sample ballots. The smallest amount is 500 pesos (11 dollars).”


That is a kingly sum that will go a long way in an area where eating three square meals a day is a luxury.


“That is democracy at work for you. These politicians steal the money from public funds anyway, and we just take a small amount back on election day,” Gacer said.


For 53-year-old Rosalinda Caspe the bribe money brings much needed nourishment to her 15 children and grand-children, who live with her in a small, windowless shack.


“Of course I’ve taken money… life is so hard. I used the money to buy rice and food,” the jobless widow said. “My reasoning is, it is the public’s money anyway, why should I not accept it?”


She said that in the local elections three years ago, she was paid twice by just tagging along caravans of opposing politicians.


While no politician will openly admit to buying votes, they acknowledge the importance of slum-dwellers to their election hopes.


“I rely on my voters in the squatters depressed areas,” Manila mayor Alfredo Lim told AFP while on the campaign trail in the city’s Tondo slums.


He said he had never bribed a voter, but estimated that “about 90 percent” of those who will vote for him will likely come from the slums.


 

Source: SGGP

Arroyo under fire over Philippine massacre case

In Uncategorized on April 21, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Outraged relatives of the 57 people killed in the Philippines’ worst political massacre said Wednesday they feared the government was protecting a powerful Muslim clan accused of the murders.

Protesters display their placards as they shout slogans during a rally at the Department of Justice Tuesday, April 20, 2010 in Manila, Philippines.

The relatives and their lawyers hit out at President Gloria Arroyo’s team after it dropped murder charges against two clan members and allowed the main suspect to protest his innocence in a rare jailhouse press conference.


“We went back into our depression and all the families were enraged,” Myrna Reblando, widow of one of the victims, said when asked about the decision to drop the charges against Zaldy and Akmad Ampatuan.


Justice Secretary Alberto Agra said on the weekend he had decided to drop the charges against the pair — barely two months after charging them — but Reblando and others said they were convinced the decision came from higher up.


“Something like this couldn’t happen without her (Arroyo) knowing about it,” Reblando told reporters outside a Manila court that was hearing initial proceedings against 15 policemen also charged over the slaughter.


The Ampatuans are a powerful clan that ruled the southern province of Maguindanao for a decade thanks in part to a close alliance with Arroyo and her ruling coalition, which allowed them to run their own private army.


However she was forced to publicly end the alliance after top clan members were accused of orchestrating the massacre of 57 people on November 23 last year in Maguindanao to allegedly eliminate the challenge of a political rival.


Andal Ampatuan Jnr, then a local mayor, is alleged to have led 100 gunmen in abducting a convoy of the rivals’ relatives, plus accompanying journalists and lawyers.


His father, then the governor of Maguindanao and a member of Arroyo’s coalition party, is among 194 other people also charged with murder.


Lawyer Harry Roque, representing some of the victims’ families, told reporters Wednesday he had applied for court proceedings to be postponed until July, when Arroyo will have stepped down a new justice secretary appointed.


“Does this mean we don’t believe we can get justice under Arroyo? The answer is yes,” Roque said.


Roque and government prosecutors also questioned why Ampatuan Jnr was allowed to hold a press conference on Tuesday in a Manila prison where he was being detained.


“I’m surprised, why in a high-security facility, one of the accused was able to conduct a full-blown press conference,” Roque said.


Government prosecutor Richard Fadullon said he had also filed an application to the court asking that the jail warden be made to explain why the press conference was allowed.


Arroyo’s spokesman, Gary Olivar, insisted Wednesday that the president was not giving the Ampatuans any favours.


“It should be clear to everyone of good faith that the president shares the desire of the victims for quick and comprehensive justice in this matter,” Olivar told AFP.


He also denied that Arroyo was involved in the decision to allow Ampatuan Jnr to hold a press conference.


“Jailhouse interviews with suspects… I don’t think that rises to the level of president,” he said.

Source: SGGP

9 dead as suspected rebels attack Philippine town

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2010 at 9:34 am

Suspected Muslim rebels wearing police and military uniforms detonated bombs and opened fire Tuesday in a southern Philippine city, triggering clashes that killed at least nine people, officials said.


The attack began with a series of simultaneous bomb blasts that hit a sports center, near a Roman Catholic cathedral and the residence of a local judge on Basilan Island, a militant stronghold where rebels and troops have repeatedly clashed, marine commandant Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban said.

A Philippine armoured personnel carrier is pictured patrolling the streets in Isabela city, on the troubled southern Philippine island of Basilan.

He said at least three marines were killed and one was wounded by snipers while trying to secure the provincial capital of Isabela city after the blasts. Four civilians and two police officers also were among the dead, Basilan police chief Tony Mendoza said.


“The marines did not know where the snipers were firing when they were ambushed and that led to the death of three marines,” Sabban told The Associated Press.


A regional military commander, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Dolorfino, said the attackers were disguised in police and military uniforms. They set a vehicle on fire and fired at anyone “who looked like military or police” as they fled the scene, Mendoza said.


Security forces were in control of Isabela and the city was cordoned off, Sabban said.


“We are advising the civilians to stay calm and not to panic and let the security forces cordon the area,” Sabban said.


Troops took one suspected attacker into custody, he said.


Muslim rebels have been fighting for a separate homeland in the predominantly Catholic nation for decades. Predominantly Muslim Basilan province, about 550 miles (880 kilometers) south of Manila, is home to the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group, notorious for kidnappings and bomb attacks over the last two decades, and the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has a cease-fire with the government while negotiating for autonomy.


Sabban said it was not clear who was responsible, but the Abu Sayyaf and the Moro rebels cooperated in past attacks on civilians and security forces on Basilan.


One of the bombs was attached to a motorcycle, a tactic that has been used by Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels in the past, Sabban said.


In February, militants raided a Basilan village, killing 11 people, including four children, in the wake of the recent killing of an Abu Sayyaf commander and the arrest of two key members. Government forces had been told to be on alert for reprisal attacks.


U.S.-backed offensives have considerably weakened the Abu Sayyaf, which has more than 390 fighters, but the government still considers the group a major security menace.

Source: SGGP

Philippine diaspora begins voting for next president

In Uncategorized on April 10, 2010 at 1:42 pm

More than half a million Filipinos living overseas, who help pump billions of dollars into the Philippines’ economy, Saturday began voting for a new president.

A Filipino woman fills in the ballot at a polling station in Hong Kong April 10, 2010. (AFP)

Nine million Filipinos live outside the Philippines with many working as maids, nurses, construction workers and sailors and the 590,000 registered voters can cast their votes until May 10.


In Hong Kong an army of voters — at least 80 percent are female domestic helpers — was expected to flood the consulate-run polling station on Sunday, their usual day off, said election official Victorio Dimagiba.


“I think we’ll have a very high turnout tomorrow and in the coming weeks,” Dimagiba told AFP.


Foreign department spokesman Eduardo Malaya said in Manila that Filipinos around the world will cast their votes in 93 embassies and consulates to elect the successor to President Gloria Arroyo. Turnout is expected to be high.


Hong Kong and Singapore, which have a combined 128,000 voters, will serve as a testbed for a computerised system being used for the first time this year said Commission on Elections (Comelec) official Armando Velasco.


“Through this (overseas voting), we will know whether or not this really works,” Velasco told reporters, acknowledging popular concern that automated elections, aimed at curbing fraud and speeding up the process, will not work.


The machines are due to be used by 50 million voters in the Philippines itself on May 10.


Those outside Hong Kong and Singapore would vote by mail or by visiting their embassies or consulates to fill out ballots.


The Philippines’ economic diaspora send billions of dollars every year to their families, helping make ends meet in a country where one in three people lives on a dollar or less a day.


Polls show the battle is shaping up as a contest between two senators, Benigno Aquino, son of the late democracy icon and former Filipina leader Corazon Aquino, and multi-millionaire developer Manuel Villar.


Domestic helper Marina Saranglao, 47, believes Aquino is the best bet to lead her native country.


“Most of (the candidates) are corrupt, but not Aquino,” Saranglao told AFP.


In Singapore, domestic helper Susanita Salmorin, 50, cast her vote for Aquino, saying his family’s political legacy assured her that he would make a good leader.


“It’s because of the experience of his father, and his mother was a president…. They have a record of good service,” she said.

Source: SGGP

Grisly massacre footage shown at Philippine trial

In World on January 21, 2010 at 12:59 am

MANILA, Jan 20, 2010 (AFP) – A Philippine politician accused of massacring 57 people displayed no emotion Wednesday as grisly footage was shown in court of the victims’ mangled and bloodied bodies being pulled from mass graves.


The video clips were part of evidence introduced by prosecutors against Andal Ampatuan Jnr, who is charged with murder over the election-related killings in the southern province of Maguindanao in November last year.








Datu Unsay Mayor, Andal Ampatuan Jr. (C)the prime suspect in the massacre of 57 people in Maguindanao province is led by a National Bureau of Investigation agent into a courtroom during the resumption of his trial at the national police headquarters compound in Manila on January 20, 2010 (AFP photo)

Filmed by a local government employee who accompanied police as they retrieved the victims from the mass graves in the two days after the murders, the video showed bloodied bodies, some of which were already decomposing.


As the footage was shown, a sister of one of the female victims broke down and had to be helped out of the courtroom.


A male lawyer representing the victims also rushed out of the silent courtroom, covering his mouth as he headed for the bathroom to vomit.


However Ampatuan Jnr, who has pleaded not guilty, had no visible reaction to the footage, at one point applying liniment to his neck as he stifled a yawn.


“He looked bored. It was like the most ordinary thing to watch,” Lilian de Lima, head of the government’s Commission on Human Rights who was in the courtroom, told reporters.


Prosecutors allege Ampatuan Jnr and about 100 of his gunmen abducted and shot dead the victims to stop a rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from running against him for the post of Maguindanao governor in May elections.


Mangudadatu’s wife and pregnant sister, as well as at least 30 journalists travelling with them, were among the 57 killed. Mangudadatu’s relatives had been on their way to an election office to register his candidacy.


Police have said Ampatuan Jnr’s father and namesake, the patriarch of the clan who was then governor of Maguindanao, should also be charged over the killings.


Ampatuan Snr and several other clan members were arrested after martial law was briefly imposed in Maguindanao and charged with rebellion.


However no date for his rebellion trial has been set, and prosecutors have yet to lay murder charges against him.


Before the killings, the Ampatuans were close political allies of President Gloria Arroyo, who armed and used them to help contain Muslim separatist rebels in the southern Philippines.


 
 
politician accused of massacring 57 people displayed no emotion Wednesday as grisly footage was shown in court of the victims’ mangled and bloodied bodies being pulled from mass graves.


The video clips were part of evidence introduced by prosecutors against Andal Ampatuan Jnr, who is charged with murder over the election-related killings in the southern province of Maguindanao in November last year.


Filmed by a local government employee who accompanied police as they retrieved the victims from the mass graves in the two days after the murders, the video showed bloodied bodies, some of which were already decomposing.


As the footage was shown, a sister of one of the female victims broke down and had to be helped out of the courtroom.


A male lawyer representing the victims also rushed out of the silent courtroom, covering his mouth as he headed for the bathroom to vomit.


However Ampatuan Jnr, who has pleaded not guilty, had no visible reaction to the footage, at one point applying liniment to his neck as he stifled a yawn.


“He looked bored. It was like the most ordinary thing to watch,” Lilian de Lima, head of the government’s Commission on Human Rights who was in the courtroom, told reporters.


Prosecutors allege Ampatuan Jnr and about 100 of his gunmen abducted and shot dead the victims to stop a rival, Esmael Mangudadatu, from running against him for the post of Maguindanao governor in May elections.


Mangudadatu’s wife and pregnant sister, as well as at least 30 journalists travelling with them, were among the 57 killed. Mangudadatu’s relatives had been on their way to an election office to register his candidacy.


Police have said Ampatuan Jnr’s father and namesake, the patriarch of the clan who was then governor of Maguindanao, should also be charged over the killings.


Ampatuan Snr and several other clan members were arrested after martial law was briefly imposed in Maguindanao and charged with rebellion.


However no date for his rebellion trial has been set, and prosecutors have yet to lay murder charges against him.


Before the killings, the Ampatuans were close political allies of President Gloria Arroyo, who armed and used them to help contain Muslim separatist rebels in the southern Philippines.


Source: SGGP Bookmark & Share