Another DOJ prosecutor in massacre case quits
- Edu Punay () - March 23, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines -  Another member of the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel prosecuting the Maguindanao massacre case has quit due to a rift between public and private prosecutors in the case.

In his letter to Secretary Leila de Lima last Mar. 18, Assistant State Prosecutor Alexander Suarez said he opted to resign from the DOJ team so “the conflict, divergence, mistrust and lack of confidence will not recur or persist.”

Suarez, one of the six members of the panel retained by De Lima, believes his decision was also “a synergistic solution to eradicate mistrust and lack of confidence in the revised panel of prosecutors.”

He admitted he was also offended by De Lima’s allegations that the original panel “lacked zeal, enthusiasm, dynamism and aggressiveness” in handling the case.

“The allegations and insinuations hurled against some of the members of the original panel of public prosecutors have challenged the credibility not only of those members removed from the original panel but also of the original panel as well,” he added.

Suarez also confirmed their rift with Nena Santos, lawyer for Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu and families of 27 of the victims, and De Lima’s law school classmate.

“In a team, mistrust and lack of confidence should be stamped out. These are ingredients for conflict. But such malevolence was prevalent during the early stages of the trial of the Ampatuan cases. Despondently and without blinking, I can say that I was also at the receiving end of it,” he said.

The fiscal admitted that he made such a decision “with a heavy heart.”

The former chair of the panel, Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, resigned from his post over his conflict with Santos, who reportedly wanted to impose her prosecution strategy over the panel despite clear rules that private prosecutors should submit to supervision of the DOJ.

Fadullon, however, was surprised that he and five other panel members – Senior State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag and State Prosecutors Juan Pedro Navera, Irwin Mara, Karla Cabel and Amada Felipe – were replaced by De Lima.

He said among the disagreements the panel had with Santos was about the manner of presentation of witnesses – when they will be presented and who will present them.

“We agreed during pre-trial to allow 15 of 57 relatives of victims to testify in trial for the civil aspect of the case — to demonstrate the sufferings they had to go through — and have the others just submit judicial affidavits. But in our last hearings, they (private lawyers) no longer agree with the plan,” he said. “It’s very difficult to be overridden by the private prosecutor who go directly to our heads here in DOJ.”

De Lima earlier said it was a “painful decision” for her to choose Santos over the DOJ prosecutors.

ASSISTANT CHIEF STATE PROSECUTOR RICHARD ANTHONY FADULLON ASSISTANT STATE PROSECUTOR ALEXANDER SUAREZ DE LIMA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ESMAEL MANGUDADATU IRWIN MARA KARLA CABEL AND AMADA FELIPE MAGUINDANAO GOV PANEL
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