KORONADAL CITY -- Families of slain journalists in the Ampatuan town massacre hit Tuesday the reported special treatment being enjoyed by the former Maguindanao governor while being detained in a military facility in Davao City.
Former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. is facing multiple murder charges in connection with the November 23 massacre that left 58 people dead, including 32 media workers, in sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town.
The elder Ampatuan has been detained at a room of the military hospital inside the Eastern Mindanao Command headquarters in Davao City following his arrest, which came after the short-lived martial law declaration in Maguindanao in early December.
Reports reaching this city said Ampatuan has been allowed to go out within the military hospital premises only to breathe fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun.
"He should not be given special favors because he's [allegedly] involved in a horrible crime. He killed not one but many people,” said Myrna P. Reblando, chair of Justice Now!, the organization of families of the slain journalists in Ampatuan town.
Reblando, widow of the slain Manila Bulletin reporter Alejandro "Bong" M. Reblando, said the alleged special treatment accorded to the elder Ampatuan could be a ploy to allow him to escape from detention.
Major Randolph Cabangbang, spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao command, reportedly said that Mr. Ampatuan's foray outside the hospital compound has the permission of doctors.
The military official added the chances for Ampatuan to escape from custody "is nil" considering the heavy security detail assigned to watch him.
Reblando said she would consult with their lawyers regarding the reported special treatment given to the elder Ampatuan, but slammed it all the same.
Family members of the slain journalists lighted candles and released balloons on Tuesday to commemorate the third month anniversary of the gory crime, amid cries for justice to come fast for the victims.
"Let us not forget. Let us continue to be vigilant on this case," Reblando urged the public.
Court hearings against the elder Ampatuan for the massacre has yet to commence although his son, Datu Unsay Mayor Andal U. Ampatuan, Jr., the prime suspect, has already faced the court several times.
The young Ampatuan, who pleaded not guilty, has been detained at the National Bureau of Investigation headquarters in Manila and is attending trial at the national police headquarters in Quezon City. (Bong S. Sarmiento)