Roque wants Maguindanao massacre prosecutors to meet Duterte
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Thursday said he would ask President Rodrigo Duterte to meet with the prosecution panel of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre case amid reports that some witnesses had retracted their testimonies against the Ampatuans.
Roque, a former human rights lawyer before serving as the President’s spokesman, once served as a private prosecutor for the victims’ relatives.
“Obviously, I have a sort of a delicadeza issue here. But nonetheless, because this is a public interest case, I’d like to inform the public that I’m arranging a meeting with the panel of prosecutors in the Palace again. And again, I would like to invite the President to join us in our meeting so that the President can be apprised by the prosecution team on what’s happening,” Roque told reporters in a Palace briefing.
Roque noted that despite the retraction of testimonies of some witnesses, the prosecution panel assured him that the case against former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., one of the principal suspects, remains strong.
“I have noted that apparently there are some witnesses against Andal, Jr. who have retracted their testimonies but I have been assured by the panel of prosecutors that so far despite retraction, the case against Unsay remains strong. Pero pinatawag ko na po ang panel of prosecutors dito sa Palasyo,” he said.
The meeting, according to Roque, is also “pursuant to the marching order of the President” to wrap up the case this year.
Ampatuan Jr. is facing murder charges for the massacre in 2009 in which 58 people, including 32 print and broadcast journalists, were killed in an ambush allegedly upon the orders of the influential Ampatuan clan.
The government has indicted some 200 suspects in the killing, including the late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. and sons, Andal Jr. and former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan. /je
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