Manila: Relatives of 57 people killed in the Philippines' worst political massacre plan to sue then-President Gloria Arroyo for arming and supporting the alleged murderers, their lawyer said on Tuesday.
The civil suit seeking 15 million pesos (USD 345,000) in damages will force Arroyo to fight another tough legal battle, after police charged her last week with conspiring to rig the 2007 senatorial elections.
The lawyer for the victims' relatives, Harry Roque, said the lawsuit would be filed at a Manila court on Tuesday afternoon, deliberately timed just ahead of Wednesday's two-year anniversary of the massacre.
Government prosecutors allege that leaders of the Ampatuan family, who ruled the southern province of Maguindanao, orchestrated the massacre to stop a political rival from challenging them in local elections.
"She enabled the Ampatuans to do what they did by arming them, by legitimising their private army, by giving them aid and by giving them political support," Roque said.
The patriarch of the family, Andal Ampatuan Snr, was governor of Maguindanao and a member of Arroyo's ruling coalition at the time of the massacre.
Arroyo's government had given the Ampatuans military hardware and allowed them to run their own private army of a few thousand men as a proxy force in the fight against secessionist Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines.
Arroyo was forced to cut all ties with the Ampatuans following the murders.
Ampatuan Senior is in detention and on trial over the murders, along with his son and namesake, who is accused of leading more than 100 gunmen in detaining the victims and massacring them on a secluded rural road in Maguindanao.
Ampatuan Senior was also charged last week for allegedly conspiring with Arroyo to rig the 2007 senatorial elections.
Arroyo's legal spokesman, Raul Lambino, said the planned civil suit was simply harassment, coming as the ailing ex-president had to face the vote-rigging charges. (AFP)