ILOILO CITY, Philippines (22 July 2011) — I fear that the P-Noy administration would strike a deal with the Ampatuans accused in the muder of 57 people in the infamous “Maguindanao Massacre” in November 2009. Thirty-two of them were journalists.
Zaldy Ampatuan, a principal suspect, offered himself to be a state witness, with the implication that he woudl be acquitted. He was the governor of Maguindanao when the tragedy happened.
At the press conference here hosted by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Iloilo Chapter, somebody raised that doubt to Secretary Leila De Lima of the Department of Justice (DoJ).
“Masyadong malabo ‘yan; hindi mangyayari ‘yan,” justice Secretary Leila De Lima told reporters here this morning. (“That’s remote; that will never happen”)
“President (Noynoy) Aquino has a standing order: oppose any move to delay the proceeding or get any of the accused off the hook.”
Under the rules of court of the Philippines, an accused may turn witness upon approval of the court that in turn requires that there is no other witness, that the accused is the least guilty, and that he/she has been arraigned and admitted to his/participation in the crime.
De Lima told reporters that Zaldy Ampatuan is one of the most guilty, he had not been arraigned nor had admitted his guilt, and that his testimony was unnecessary as there are other direct witnesses.
“Zaldy Ampatuan’s defense is alibi, that he denied his presence in the scene of incident,” noted De Lima. “So how can he testify on something he has not directly witnessed?”
De Lima will address members of the Integrated Bar of Philippines (IBP) Iloilo Chapter this evening at the induction of officers of IBP-Iloilo led by president Boy Salmon.