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Metro

Andal Jr.’s new lawyer: Massacre raps ‘fabricated’

Reinir Padua - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines -  Saying he accepted the controversial Maguindanao massacre murder case “for a very minimal fee,” high-profile lawyer Salvador Panelo has taken over as counsel of Andal Ampatuan Jr.

After looking into the voluminous documents of the case, Panelo said the charges against Andal Jr. and other members of the Ampatuan clan were “fabricated.”

“I believe in their innocence. There’s injustice (committed to them). Somebody has to take this case,” Panelo said in an interview. 

Panelo entered his appearance as Andal Jr.’s new lawyer during a hearing at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on Wednesday. The law firm of Fortun, Narvasa & Salazar recently withdrew as counsel for Andal Jr.

According to Panelo, a member of the Ampatuan clan contacted him through his Facebook page last week.

This was after Andal Jr. wrote the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221, which is hearing the murder case in connection with the Maguindanao massacre, to ask for more time to seek new representation, citing that the family had gone broke. 

Andal Jr. told the court that most of the lawyers whose services he had sought, were asking high acceptance fees. He also said a number of them had refused to handle the case because of the limited time to go over numerous court documents since the cases were filed in court. 

“They (Ampatuans) have no money. This case has dragged for five years and most of their properties in Cotabato have been seized by rebels. They are powerless… I accepted the case for a very minimal fee,” Panelo said.

“I looked at the case and I discovered they’re innocent, to my pleasant shock,” he said. 

Panelo said he was ready to receive criticism for accepting the controversial case, in which a number of the complainants are families of slain journalists. 

“I have not accepted any case that’s not controversial,” he said, noting that most of the clients he had had in the past were the subject of negative public opinion. 

These included Calauan, Laguna Mayor Antonio Sanchez, who was accused and eventually convicted of rape. He also represented former first lady Imelda Marcos in one of the government’s cases against the Marcoses’ alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Panelo is also the lawyer of Ely Pamatong and Deniece Cornejo.

 

 

AMPATUAN ANDAL AMPATUAN JR. ANDAL JR. CAMP BAGONG DIWA CASE ELY PAMATONG AND DENIECE CORNEJO IMELDA MARCOS LAGUNA MAYOR ANTONIO SANCHEZ PANELO
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