Chief gov’t prosecutor in Maguindanao massacre case replacedBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The head of the government prosecution team in the Maguindanao massacre case has again been replaced after former chief Assistant Regional Prosecutor Peter Medalle asked to be transferred back to Zamboanga City.
Taguig City Prosecutor Archie Manabat took over his post, Medalle announced Sunday.
Medalle said he asked for the transfer because he wanted to be with his family and there were pressing Abu Sayyaf cases to be prosecuted in Zamboanga, where the regional prosecutor is set to retire on Oct. 23.
“This won’t affect the Maguindanao massacre case,” Medalle said. “What’s important is the evidence is intact and the witnesses are there. There will be some adjustment but Manabat is a veteran prosecutor.”
This is the second time for the head of the prosecution panel to be replaced. In March last year, Medalle took over as head of the panel after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima replaced most of the government prosecutors due to squabbles in the prosecution team.
Private prosecutor Harry Roque Jr. said the departure of Medalle would not have a negative effect in the prosecution of the case.
He said Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes has allowed the testimony of three vital government witnesses despite vehement opposition from the defense while the Department of Justice has formally charged the accused for the death of the 58th victim, photojournalist Reynaldo Momay.
“With the filing of the complaint for the 58th victim, we will present as witnesses the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) team that investigated (Momay’s) case. This would include (Justice) Secretary Leila de Lima, who was then the head of the CHR,” Roque said.
He said the prosecution team would also move to correct some of the information filed in court for Momay’s case because among those charged were respondents who have signified their intent to turn state witness and are now under the care of the government’s witness protection program.