De Lima: No to more lawyers in massacre case

Posted at 11/22/12 4:28 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) sees no need to add more public prosecutors to the present team of 21 prosecuting the celebrated Maguindanao massacre case.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the prosecutors are doing their jobs but have no control over the delaying tactics of the defense.

"[There's this] penchant of the defense panel to question the testimony of witnesses, go to the appellate court, SC (Supreme Court)... naaantala ang pagpresent namin ng witnesses," she said.

Because of these tactics, De Lima said the prosecutors are constrained to present "less vital" witnesses.

De Lima met with representatives of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) who wanted to express their concern about the progress of the Maguindanao massacre trial.

She said she briefed them about the proposal to create a "high-level inter-agency body" to address extra-judicial killings, media killings, enforced disappearances, and reported torture incidents.

She assured the NUJP that President Aquino continues to monitor the Maguindanao massacre trial, and is seeking ways on how to better secure families of media killings.

A total of 196 people had been charged in court for the brutal slay of 58 people, mostly journalists, in Ampatuan town on Nov. 23, 2009. So far, only 98 of the accused have been arrested, and 81 arraigned.