To the Ampatuans’ lawyers: Don’t belittle the suffering of the victims


February 11, 2011

To the Ampatuans’ lawyers: Don’t belittle the suffering of the victims

The lawyers of those accused of carrying out the November 23, 2009 Ampatuan massacre are overstepping the bounds of decency and ethics in defending their clients.

We acknowledge the right of anyone accused of a crime to the services of the best counsel they can find, just as we recognize the right of lawyers to defend their clients as best they can.

But we submit that to belittle the suffering of the victims of this most heinous of crimes, to insinuate in open court that the 58 persons who perished in the carnage may have died of natural causes, may have killed themselves, may have killed each other, may have suffered massive injuries caused by insect bites, goes beyond competent legal defense and makes a mockery of the very profession of the law itself.


We believe that the law profession remains, in essence, an honorable one and that its practitioners by and large abide by the common principles on which all professions are founded – to help others and never to deliberately inflict harm.

However, in their zeal to defend their clients, the Ampatuan defense lawyers not only mock the victims’ suffering, they also add to the anguish of all the families who lost loved ones in the carnage and who continue to live in fear for their lives.

We appeal to the defense lawyers’ sense of decency and humanity. We recognize your duty to do everything to get your clients off the hook. But please, not at the expense of worsening the already grave injustice inflicted on both the victims and their families by what we can only described as utterly insensitive antics.

We also urge the court and lawyers’ groups to remind their colleagues in the massacre trial defense to observe the tenets of their profession or, failing this, to take steps to compel them to do so.


Nestor Burgos Jr., NUJP chairperson
Rowena Paraan, NUJP secretary-general and Media Safety Office coordinator

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