• Palace hopeful Ampatuan lawyers’ withdrawal won’t cause delay in massacre trial


    Malacañang on Friday expressed hope that the withdrawal of the defense lawyers for a number of accused in the 2009 Maguindanao massacre from the case is not intended to delay the trial.

    “In any case, the DOJ (Department of Justice) panel of prosecutors are on guard against dilatory tactics,” said Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte in a statement.

    Valte said that under the rules of procedure, if a lawyer is not retained by the accused, he or she will have to be defended by a public attorney after a certain period of time.

    The defense lawyers’ withdrawal from the massacre case came amid accusations of bribery against some of the prosecutors.

    Justice Secretary Leila already ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe into the allegation.

    The bribery issue prompted calls, even joined by families of the victims, for an independent investigation.

    “In any event, Atty. Nena Santos can file a case before the Office of the Ombudsman so that she can prove her alleged case with hard evidence,” Valte further said.

    Santos is one of the private lawyers of families of 27 victims in the Maguindanao killings. PNA


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