Lawyer accused of briberyBy Julie M. Aurelio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Private prosecutors are asking a Quezon City court to order a defense lawyer to explain why he should not be cited for contempt for allegedly trying to bribe a witness in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre.
In a motion, private prosecutors Cesar Angelo Chavez III, Nena Santos, Prima Jesusa Quinsayas and Ma. Gemma Oquendo claimed lawyer Andres Manuel tried to bribe prosecution witness Esmael Canapia.
Manuel is the lawyer of some civilian volunteer officers (CVO) charged for their involvement in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre in Maguindanao of 57 people, over 30 of them journalists.
Top members of the politically powerful Ampatuan clan are the suspected masterminds of the crime.
The pleading was filed before Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the QC Regional Trial Court Branch 221.
The prosecution claimed that on June 18, Canapia, who is also a CVO, executed an affidavit narrating what he witnessed on Nov. 22 and 23, 2009.
In the affidavit, Canapia also claimed that Manuel visited him at the custodian center and offered him cash and a house for his family if he would sign a statement implicating Datu Rasul Sangki as the mastermind of the massacre.
Sangki is a former vice mayor of Ampatuan town in Maguindanao and is being considered as a state witnesses in the case.
Canapia said he only learned that it was Manuel who approached him when he saw the lawyer during a hearing.
Andal Ampatuan Jr. and his father, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. are among 195 accused in the 2009 massacre.
Many of the suspects are still at large.