DOJ orders NBI probe into ambush of Maguindanao massacre case witness
Relatives and press freedom advocates hold up photos of the Ampatuan massacre victims at a press conference after the promulgation of the verdict in the case on December 19, 2019. Cagadas Jr.
DOJ orders NBI probe into ambush of Maguindanao massacre case witness
Kristine Joy Patag ( - June 5, 2020 - 6:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct its own probe into ambush of a “vital” witness to the Maguindanao massacre case, that led to the death of a state protection program staff.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued Department Order No. 143, directing the NBI to conduct investigation and case-build up on the ambush of Mohammad Sangki on June 4.

Sangki, his driver and security aide from DOJ’s WPP were ambushed in South Cotabato on Wednesday morning.

According to the department order made public only on Friday, Intelligence and Security Officer Richard Escobilla was killed in the incident.

Escobilla is employed under DOJ’s Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Program.

This is the second time in 2020 that Sangki was attacked by unidentified gunmen.

Earlier in March — three months since a local court issued a verdict on the case — Sangki and four of his companions were also fired upon by unidentified gunmen in Shariff Aguak town, in Maguindanao.

Guevarra referred to Sangki as a “vital witness in the second wave or prosecution for the Maguindanao massacre.”

The DOJ chief added: “[I]t is not far-fetched that this ambush...had something to do with the horrible case.”

Quezon City Court Judge  Jocelyn Solis-Reyes ordered the reopening of the cases in January 2020 after suspects of the massacre, who were at large when she issued the verdict in December 2019, were brought to court.

Guevarra directed NBI Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor to “submit reports on the progress of the subject investigation and case build-up directly to the Office of the Secretary within ten days.”

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