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Even if the Supreme Court junks Proclamation 1959 placing Maguindanao under martial law, members of the Ampatuan clan linked to the November 23 massacre in the province will not get off the hook - at least, not easily. Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera said they will rely on jurisprudence that provide mechanisms to oppose the release of suspects arrested while martial law was in effect. “Hindi basta-basta ma-release ang mga suspek. We will proceed with the hearing of the case (We cannot release the suspects just like that, if the high court junks the martial law. We will still proceed with the hearing of the case)," Devanadera said in an interview on dwIZ radio. “It’s a legal battle. It will be a legal battle. At every point it will be a legal battle," she added. Besides, she said it is still too early to speculate on what will happen if the high court eventually accommodates the petitions by various groups to junk the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao.
Devanadera said she anticipates the Ampatuans would petition that they be released if the SC shoots down Proclamation 1959 because their arrest during martial law would have been rendered illegal. "They will always claim that. But it’s a legal battle. In the first place, the declaration of martial law will be heard by Congress tomorrow (Wednesday). Let’s see what happens in the hearings in Congress," she said. Congress is due to start on Wednesday its joint session to tackle the declaration of martial law over Maguindanao province. Devanadera is one of the resource persons invited to the session. Government forces arrested several members of the Ampatuan clan, including patriarch and former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., at the time martial law was in effect over the province. Police and military forces also recovered several firearms and ammunition caches near properties of the Ampatuans, and that many of the war machines hastily buried. On the other hand, Devanadera said the imposition of martial law had encouraged several residents to come out and provide information on the Nov. 23 massacre of at least 57 people. - LBG/RSJ, GMANews.TV