Questionable meetings spark heated row among lawyers in Maguindanao massacre trialBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—A heated exchange broke out between lawyers in what appeared to be attempts at backdoor talks among the prosecution and defense panels in the Maguindanao massacre case.
Toward the end of Thursday’s hearing before a Quezon City court, private prosecutor Nena Santos accused three defense counsels of allegedly contacting her client, Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu, without her knowledge.
Santos named the three lawyers as Yasser Lombos, Adilberto Golla Jr and Laguindab Marohombsar.
“Attorneys Golla, Marohombsar and Lombos met with my client at their behest without the knowledge of this manifestation,” Santos informed Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of Regional Trial Court Branch 221 in a manifestation.
Mangudadatu’s lawyer did not disclose what was discussed during the alleged meeting. But Santos said she was bringing it up since Golla previously accused the prosecution of talking with one of his clients without his knowledge.
Santos added: “We had been accused of something that is not true.”
Lombos then manifested that the meeting happened but said “it was the request of the good governor.”
Lombos claimed that Mangudadatu called him up and “requested me to represent two of the clients of Attorney Golla and one of the clients of Attorney Marohombsar.”
However, the lawyer declined and suggested a meeting instead so he could explain to the governor the practices and ethics of those in the legal profession.
Lombos also alleged that Santos told him to consider taking on a client of Golla, “blindsiding” or without Golla’s knowledge.
“The prosecution asked my client to say something in court in exchange for something. That I cannot allow,” he added, declining to go into details.
For his part, Golla alleged that the prosecution has been trying to convince his clients to be state witnesses.
State prosecutor Olivia Torrevillas, meanwhile, claimed that Lombos tried to contact Senior Inspector Rex Ariel Diongon, an accused who has a pending bid before the court to be admitted as state witness.
Lombos denied this, saying it was not true that he “exerted effort” to meet Diongon.
He also noted the sentiment of some of his clients, saying: “…To them, this case is going nowhere.”
The judge noted the manifestations, halting the legal wrangling between the opposing lawyers.