MANILA (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Saturday assured the public the Department of Justice will be on guard against delaying tactics in the 2009 Ampatuan Massacre trial, with government prosecutors continuing to do their work.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte gave the assurance amid concerns stemming from the sudden withdrawal of lawyers of some of the defendants in the case.
“DOJ prosecutors will be on guard to fight against dilatory tactics (or efforts to) delay (the proceedings) further,” she said on government-run dzRB radio.
“Yung DOJ patuloy na ginagawa ang trabaho nila,” she added.
Earlier, lawyers for some of the accused in the infamous multiple murder case withdrew as lawyers for suspects including Ampatuan patriarch Andal Sr. and son Andal Jr.
Also withdrawing were lawyers for accused Sajid Islam Ampatuan, Datu Anwar Ampatuan, Datu Akmad Ampatuan Sr, Datu Anwar Ampatuan Jr, Datu Sajid Anwar Ampatuan, Nasser Esmail, Nicomedes Amad Tolentino, Bulatukan Omar Kayansang, Datutulon Malaguial Esmael, and Datukan Malang Salibo.
Similarly withdrawing were lawyers for Moktar Daud, Mohades Ampatuan, Misuari Ampatuan, Macton Bilungan, Tato Sampogao (wrongly charged as Salipaf Tampogaoz), Taya Bangkulat, Salik Bangkulat, Ibrahim Kamal Yatak (wrongly charged as Thong Guiamano), Norman Tatak, Abedin Alamada, Morales Sisay Amilol, and Talembo Kahar Abdulrahman (wrongly charged as Tammy Talembo).
The withdrawal occurred amid accusations of bribery involving some prosecutors in the case.
But private prosecutor Harry Roque Jr. voiced suspicions the defense lawyers’ withdrawal may have been part of the Ampatuan camp’s dilatory tactics, especially after the prosecution rested its case.
The 2009 massacre is considered the worst single-day election-related violence in Philippine history.
At least 58 people, 32 of them journalists, were allegedly stopped at a checkpoint at Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman in Ampatuan town, and gunned down. (MNS)