Journalists' lawyer slams bribery claim in massacre case

Posted at 08/05/14 3:18 PM

MANILA - International law advocacy group Center for International Law (Centerlaw) slammed private prosecutors Nena Santos and Prima Quinsayas for claiming some of those in the prosecution panel are being bribed by the accused in the Maguindanao massacre case.

In a statement, lawyer Harry Roque of Centerlaw said: “As counsel for the heirs of 15 victims of the massacre, we lament the unsubstantiated allegations of bribery that serve no purpose other than to derail the goal of effective and expeditious prosecution.”

Roque represents the families of the journalists who died in the November 23, 2009 incident.

“If Attorneys Santos and Quinsayas have good faith, belief in the worth of their cause, we are the first to encourage them to correctly ventilate them in the proper forum of IBP administrative and judicial criminal proceedings, where they should present real, concrete and substantiated evidence,” Roque said.

He reiterated his earlier sentiments that the accused will only benefit from the current impasse between the private and public prosecutors.

Santos and Quinsayas earlier slammed the decision of the government lawyers to rest the case against the principal accused, Andal Ampatuan Jr., and 27 others. They said this will prevent them from presenting additional evidence.

Roque said it was Centerlaw that first proposed the First-in-First-Out Rule (FIFO). Under this, the court may already render judgment in the case of any of the accused where all evidence – for or against – has been heard.

“The rationale is that the families of victims and the accused do not have to wait for the evidence concerning 194 accused to be heard by the court to achieve justice, which could take a long, long, long time,” he said.

Roque noted the two private prosecutors have been claiming that there are more witnesses who are crucial to the case.

“We regret to say that, to the best of our knowledge and after waiting for so long, there is not much that can be staked on such a claim,” he said.