DOJ fiscal denies Maguindanao massacre bribe try

Posted at 08/04/2014 3:03 PM | Updated as of 08/05/2014 12:38 AM

MANILA - A Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor is crying foul over being implicated in the alleged bribery try to compromise the Maguindanao massacre case trials.

State Prosecutor Aristotle Reyes faced mediamen with Justice Undersecretary Baraan III, the undersecretary-in-charge of the Maguindanao massacre cases, to debunk the report.

Reyes and Baraan were reacting to a question raised by a Bandila program anchor about the veracity of reports Reyes was supposedly sacked from the panel of state prosecutors after having been dragged in a bribery controversy.

The question was asked during Baraan's guesting to respond to statements from private prosecutor Nena Santos that state prosecutors have allegedly been bribed to compromise the trial in favor of the accused.

"That is unfair to Fiscal Reyes, to his family... there is no truth to that. Hindi siya tinanggal, he resigned from the panel due to differences with other public prosecutors. That's not extraordinary."

"There was no bribery issue, he was not investigated for that, nor for anything, in fact, he is still very much with the DOJ," Baraan said.

Reyes said he quit the panel last January so as to avoid divisiveness in the prosecution team.

"May differences lang sa legal strategy kaya ako nagresign. Hindi po ako nasuhulan, walang ganoong nangyari. Wala pong katotohanan yun."

"Nagresign ako para hindi umabot sa punto na magkatampuhan kami, kasi mahirap magprosecute pag umabot sa ganoon," Reyes said, even as he pointed out that it was a professional decision.

Reyes, now on his 11th year with the DOJ, is, in fact, handling other high-profile cases as proof that he still has the trust of his superiors, Baraan stressed.

"He is part of the prosecution team handling the Atimonan [rubout] case and the Zamboanga [MNLF] siege," Baraan said.

The DOJ, through Baraan and Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, lashed at Santos for her bribe allegations, even challenging Santos to prove her claims.

Baraan said Santos' allegations are "malicious, irresponsible, outlandish, fabricated, out of place, juvenile, and childish," while De Lima described it as "preposterous and unfair."