De Lima: I don't believe Zaldy Ampatuan

Posted at 07/12/2011 10:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday said she does not believe that suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan is telling the whole truth about the Maguindanao massacre.

De Lima, in an interview with ANC's Strictly Politics, said the government can't consider Ampatuan's offer to become a state witness as he has yet to admit involvement in the crime.

"If we accept him, what happens to our other witnesses? Mahirap ito," she said.

De Lima added that the Department of Justice has yet to receive a formal request from the former ARMM governor on his offer to turn state witness.

"At this point, I don't believe him," de Lima said, when asked if she thinks Zaldy Ampatuan is telling the entire truth about the case.

Zaldy Ampatuan, in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN News, tagged his brother Andal Jr. and father Andal Sr. in the massacre. 

He said Andal Jr. planned the murders, while the Ampatuan patriarch was present during the 2 meetings prior to the November 23 killings that claimed the lives of 57 people, including more than 30 journalists.

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called the Maguindanao massacre the single deadliest event for journalists in history.

De Lima said Zaldy Ampatuan must own up to being part of the plot.

"If (Zaldy Ampatuan) insists of having no participation at all yet (is) willing to testify against Andal Jr. & Andal Sr., hindi tayo basta-basta pwedeng maniwala," he said.

"It's not natural human behavior na ilalaglag mo ang sarili mong ama at kapatid," the Department of Justice chief added.

De Lima, however, said the government is obliged to secure the former ARMM governor.

"If Zaldy Ampatuan requests for security, by all means, let's provide that. It's his right," she said.