Maguindanao Massacre Trial: Prosecutor stands firm on resignation
- Edu Punay () - April 2, 2011 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A Quezon City prosecutor has stood by her decision to resign from the Department of Justice (DOJ) panel handling the Maguindanao massacre case.

Quezon City Assistant City Prosecutor LIezel Morales said she has reconsidered her decision after talking to DOJ Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, who is in charge of the prosecution panel. Baraan said that Morales was withdrawing her resignation from the panel after they talked last Thursday.

“She has reconsidered. I no longer have to decide whether to accept her resignation or not,” he said. But Morales explained to The STAR: “I did not reconsider. There might have been miscommunication. As far as I know, I already tendered my resignation on March 29, 2011 and up to this time, it’s the decision I stand for.”

The QC fiscal said she only told Baraan of her concerns about the case and that she even gave suggestions on how the case should be handled “considering that I am the only original panel member left and have institutional knowledge of the case.” “I can no longer stay with the new panel – given the fact also the position I already made. It’s not healthy and productive for me to stay,” she said.

In her letter to DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima last Tuesday, Morales cited “intolerable working atmosphere” as reason for leaving the panel. She said she sympathizes with the former panel members – Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon, Senior State Prosecutor Rosanne Balauag and State Prosecutors Juan Pedro Navera, Irwin Maraya, Karla Cable and Amanda Felipe – who were accused by De Lima of lack of zeal and enthusiasm in justifying their removal from the team purportedly sought by lawyers Nena Santos, her former classmate in law school.

“Much as I want to stay, it is disheartening and repulsive to hear negative comments and remarks against some members of the original panel. My association with the original panel clearly manifests that private prosecutor’s level of trust in me has dropped, hence, susceptibility to doubting my actions can grow,” Morales lamented.

“Blaming public prosecutors based on unfounded reasons by private prosecutors even during the proceedings, instead of working with them, is what created the hostile and inane work environment to the point that some members of the original panel have to leave or had to be replaced,” she added.

Morales also admitted that she could not avoid comparing the performances of the old and new panels of DOJ with recent developments in the case.

Hearings in the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 have been reset twice since the new panel of DOJ prosecutors took over the case. During the hearing last Thursday, the credibility of a ballistician presented by Assistant State Prosecutor Nestor Lazaro was questioned by the court after the panel failed to present documents to prove his credentials as a witness.

Also yesterday, Baraan has denied reports that Morales was replaced by ACP Ramoncio Ocampo Jr., who was recuirted by City Prosecutor Donald Lee upon instruction of De Lima. He said Ocampo and another new member of the panel, Prosecution lawyer Irene Resurreccion, just appeared during hearing to “have a feel of the trial.” He said it was just a “dry run.”

Bakal earlier filed a manifestation and said he was no longer contesting the move of the prosecution to have him arraigned, abandoning his earlier motion for reconsideration of the charges against him..

More suspects

In a related development, more suspects in the “Maguindanao massacre” multiple murder case are now volunteering to be arraigned – despite having earlier questioned their indictment in court – citing the need for “expediency” for both the defense and the prosecution.

Misuari Ampatuan, Tato Sampogao, Taya Bangkulat and Salik Bangkulat have asked the RTC Branch 221 to be arraigned “as soon as possible.”

Their lawyer, Andres Manuel, filed two separate pleadings asking to withdraw their earlier motion for reinvestigation of the charges against them and to set their arraignment. – With Reinir Padua


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