Settle differences, Palace tells Maguindanao massacre lawyers
MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III remains committed to bringing justice to the victims of the 2009 Maguindanao massacre, his deputy spokesperson said Saturday amid new wrangling between private and government prosecutors in the multiple murder case.
Abigail Valte also appealed to the prosecutors to settle whatever issues they have with each other.
“President Aquino’s commitment is to them (victims), for justice. We have not forgotten what happened in Maguindanao that day in November and I am sure it’s not just us who remember. Many of us remember. And even if the case has not been in the news lately, I know that many people are monitoring this,” Valte said over government-run DZRB.
Valte said Malacanang “leaves it to the wisdom of the government prosecutors” how to proceed with the case.
She recalled that even when she was in private practice, the private prosecutors who represent the victims were “still under the control and supervision of the government prosecutors.”
“So really, you would defer to the judgment of the government prosecutors. And if they have some sort of misunderstanding, I hope they can settle it among themselves because what we want here, and everybody wants this, is justice for the victims and their families,” Valte said.
Private prosecutors Nena Santos and Prima Jesusa Quinsayas complained to the media last Thursday about the government prosecutors’ plan to rest its case against Andal Ampatuan, Jr. and 27 other accused as part of the “first-in-first-out” strategy to expedite the case.
Andal et al are facing multiple murder charges for the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre of 58 people, 32 of them journalists and media worker, in what has been described as the worst election related violence in the country’s history.
Santos is the lawyer of Maguindanao Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, whose wife and sisters were among those killed in the massacre, and 26 other complainants. Quinsayas represents the families of 17 victims.
Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan said only Santos and Quinsayas among the private prosecutors were complaining that there were cracks within the team.
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