|DOJ rejects Zaldy's bid to turn witness|
|Lifestyle - Travelers Blog|
|Written by public|
MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) yesterday rejected an offer of suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan to become a state witness in connection with the Maguindanao massacre.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Ampatuan, among those principally accused in the multiple murder case, lacks the qualification to become state witness.
“(It’s) not possible. It’s really rejection insofar as public prosecutors are concerned,” De Lima told reporters in a news conference yesterday. “We do not need him.”
She also cited Ampatuan’s insistence of innocence, saying it “goes against the very essence of a state witness.”
“If you offer to become state witness, you should know about it (crime). He’s saying now that he has nothing to do with the massacre. That would be contradictory to our witnesses who pointed to his involvement in the planning stage,” she said.
The DOJ chief added that Ampatuan should be “not the most guilty” for him to qualify as state witness.
“There also should be no other direct evidence which can prove the culpability of the other accused, and that your proffered testimony can be corroborated in its material points,” she said.
The DOJ chief said the prosecution is also aware of speculations that Ampatuan’s move could be a ploy to evade conviction and a strategy of the family to save their assets.
“There’s got to be more to it than meets the eye. It’s not natural human behavior to go against your own brother and father. He wants to save himself and his family. You can say it was conscience knocking on him, but it really has to be evaluated,” she said.
But De Lima said the DOJ might reconsider its stand on Zaldy’s offer should the latter plead guilty during his arraignment and formally apply to become state witness.
She said she also sees nothing wrong with Zaldy’s request for protection while inside the jail.
De Lima has given assurance that the DOJ would successfully prosecute the massacre case and the conviction of the accused is “just a matter of time.”
Zaldy’s lawyer Redemberto Villanueva however clarified his client has no intention to become state witness, but only wants protection from the government’s Witness Protection Program (WPP).
“Zaldy wants to clarify that [he is not applying to become state witness]. He just wants to cooperate with the government so that the public will know the truth. What we’re saying is that, as a witness, maybe the government can just give him protection,” Villanueva said.
After turning his back on his family, Zaldy has apparently also burned bridges with former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
In a statement released at the DOJ by his lawyer last night, Zaldy said he is willing to cooperate with the administration of President Aquino in investigating anomalies in previous election purportedly perpetrated by the former administration.
“Then President Gloria Arroyo was not the only politician who benefited and manipulated this system of cheating in the ARMM,” he alleged.
Zaldy specifically revealed anomalies and fraud during the 2007 ARMM polls when he won as governor under Arroyo’s ticket.
He bared that his father Andal Sr., who is also indicted as principal accused in the massacre, was called by former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in January 2007 in his office in Makati City to plan the alleged cheating in Maguindanao polls in favor of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri.
It was during this meeting that Andal Sr. was given P3 million, which was also attended by former provincial administration engineer Norie Unas. The meeting was meant to map out how to ensure a 12-0 vote for the administration.
Zaldy alleged that Mr. Arroyo instructed their family to ensure that then senatorial bet Aquino and other candidates Alan Peter Cayetano and Panfilo Lacson, would get zero votes in Maguindanao.
Arroyo’s lawyer Ruy Rondain however said that the former first gentleman was then convalescing during the period cited by Zaldy’s lawyer in 2007.
Zubiri also denied the charges saying the ARMM polls results were not subject of the poll protest filed by his rival for the last Senate slot, Aquilino Pimentel III.
Information taken form www.philstar.com