NBI to summon holder of ‘bribe notebook’ in massacre case

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - August 12, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Investigators are closing in on the source of allegations that members of a Department of Justice (DOJ) panel handling the Maguindanao massacre case received million-peso bribes from the Ampatuans.

The woman reportedly holds the notebook of former defense lawyer Arnel Manaloto that listed names of members of the prosecution team with corresponding dates and amounts, a source privy to the probe of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) told The STAR yesterday.

The source did not name the woman who would be summoned by the bureau, and who could be charged by DOJ officials being accused of receiving bribes.

But the source revealed that she is “the same woman who earlier claimed to have a pending petition for review in the DOJ regarding her carnapping complaint against Atty. Manaloto.”

The insider added the woman’s claims about the notebook – as reported by ABS-CBN News in a series of reports by veteran reporter Ces Drilon last week – may not be credible.

“Obviously, she has an axe to grind against Manaloto. Among those she named in the list was Prosecutor Cristina Barot, who apparently was the one who recommended the dismissal of her carnapping charge against Manaloto,” the source said.

Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, whose name reportedly appeared in the notebook along with his former secretary Paola Garcia and former DOJ panel head Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, did not handle the petition for review of the case.

Baraan confirmed they are planning to take legal action against their accusers.

He also assailed the ABS-CBN report, which insinuated that the notebook was related to the bribery issue.

“The holder of the notebook doesn’t even know what that list was all about. She even said she thought it was a list of debts. It’s unfair to immediately conclude that the people in the list are those who received bribes from the Ampatuans,” the DOJ official said.

“Why was there selective reporting of the names in the list? It was meant to cause maximum damage on our reputation,” he added.

Private prosecutor Harry Roque Jr., who is also being implicated in the controversy, denied the report, which stated that his cell phone number was in the notebook.

Several aliases were found in the notebook, including the name “Speedy” and a corresponding cell phone number.

The report said Speedy received P10 million and a new car from the Ampatuans. But the alias was not attributed to Roque, as reported by The STAR yesterday. The report only attributed the cell phone number to him.

Roque denied the link and called the attention of the media outfit for the “absence of verification, authorship and authentication of the handwritten notebook.”

Strong case

Despite the controversy, the prosecution panel is confident of the conviction of the primary accused, Andal “Datu Unsay” Ampatuan Jr.

“We already have a strong case. This is murder and we have eyewitnesses who directly witnessed how Unsay killed the victims. That’s strong enough to secure conviction,” Baraan said.

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