By Julius D. Mariveles
Members of the prosecution panel in the Ampatuan Massacre case might seek the disbarment of one of the private prosecutors after she said that some of them are selling off the case.
“They feel alluded to, they might seek her disbarment,” Justice Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III told PCIJ a day after private prosecutor Nena Santos said over national television that she knew some prosecutors who are receiving bribes.
“That was a very irresponsible statement and uncalled for; I am pleading with her now to produce evidence so we can clean up the panel,” Baraan said.
Santos, however, was unfazed by the threat.
“Let them file it; I will just answer it and I would show the evidence of bribery. I am asking those who have not received money not to take part in the filing; I know who they are, anyway,” Santos said in a text message in Filipino sent to the PCIJ when she was sought out for comment.
Baraan was ordered by Justice Sec. Leila De Lima to answer the allegations against the members of the panel after Santos and another private prosecutor, lawyer Prima Quinsayas, said that the government should not yet rest its case against 28 of the accused.
Heading the panel is Prosecutor Archimedes V. Manabat while the members are Ma. Emilia L. Victorio, Amor L. Robles, Olivia L. Torrevillas, Susan T. Villanueva, Tofel G. Austria, Clarisa V. Kuong, Arthur S. Velasco, Philger Noel B. Innovejas, Arthur S. Velasco, Philger Noel B. Innovejas, Cesar Angelo A. Chavez III, and Benjamin R. Samson.
Baraan said he also found it strange that Santos does not want to name names and produce evidence about the alleged bribery involving members of the panel. “If she really wants the prosecution to succeed then why is she not naming names and showing us the proof so I can do something about it,” he said.
The justice undersecretary supervises the prosecution panel.
“(Lawyer) Harry Roque is correct, there is no rift, if ever there is it’s like what he said: it’s just between Attorneys Quinsaya and Santos and everyone else,” he added.
He also pointed out that he was in fact supposed to sign a letter yesterday granting them a two-week extension to submit the documents requested by the panel.
As for the visit of Ampatuan counsel Sigfrid Fortun to his office, Baraan said the two are “making a mountain of a molehill” and insisted that the “surprise visit” of Fortun was not related to the Ampatuan Massacre case. “I am emotional right now,” Baraan said during the PCIJ interview, “because they are insinuating that I did something wrong in full public view and in my office.”
“Why should I tell them? Do they mean to tell them that I should immediately call them up and tell them ‘Hey, Nena, Atty. Fortun’ came; is that what she really wants?” he added.
Baraan added that they are not jeopardizing the case as he pointed out that the private prosecutors are representing their respective clients on the civil aspect of the case while the public prosecutors are concerned with the criminal aspect of the trial.
“Why should we blow things up? I believe in the quality of evidence that the government prosecution panel has submitted for this case.”
“They don’t have the monopoly of good intentions, we are also thinking about what to do so the case will prosper,” he added.