Mangudadatu lawyer: No reason to give Zaldy protection

Posted at 09/09/11 12:41 PM

MANILA, Philippines - A lawyer of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael "Toto" Mangudadatu believes there is no reason for the government to place massacre suspect Zaldy Ampatuan under the witness protection program (WPP).

Atty. Nena Santos said she read Ampatuan's affidavit allegedly accusing former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Mike of rigging the 2007 elections.

"I read the affidavit. Wala naman siyang nakita. Sinabi lang niya narinig niya. Sa panig namin, we will oppose any application for witness protection para sa election fraud na yan," she told radio dzMM.

Santos said she believes the allegations of poll fraud leveled against the former President are being dangled to give Ampatuan a reprieve by letting him enter the WPP.

She also said that they have ample evidence to prove Ampatuan was involved in the Maguindanao massacre.

"Once arraigned and the trial starts, we will release the evidence against him," she said.

Ampatuan submitted his application for witness protection Thursday, together with a 2-page sworn statement on alleged poll fraud involving former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband Mike in the 2007 elections.

Relatives of victims of the Maguindanao massacre are against Zaldy turning state witness.

They believe this is his ploy to escape jail time for his role in the mass killings.

Lawyer Harry Roque, lawyer for relatives of victims in the Maguindanao massacre, pointed out that once Ampatuan is admitted into the WPP, he will have to stay in a safe house while any threat against his life remains.

So, even if he is found guilty in the massacre case, Ampatuan will not be sent to prison.

Roque also said the case is a challenge to President Benigno Aquino. He warned that the world will laugh at the country if Ampatuan's application is approved.