De Lima to NBI: Dig deep in Ampatuan payoff probe
MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is set to probe payoff allegations against public prosecutors handling the Ampatuan massacre cases.
In a chance interview Thursday, August 7, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila de Lima assured the public no one will be spared in the investigation.
De Lima said she ordered the bureau to conduct the probe as per the request of DOJ Undersecretary Francisco "Toti" Baraan and the panel of public prosecutors themselves.
The NBI was given 30 days to submit a confidential report on the matter.
Baraan and the DOJ panel have been at the center of the controversy, after they were accused of receiving bribes from the Ampatuans to weaken the case.
Private prosecutor Nena Santos first revealed that a P300 million bribe offer was made to her, followed by prosecution witness Lakmodin Saliao claiming the Ampatuans bribed Baraan and the panel for P50 million. (READ: Gov't lawyers: Timeline belies Ampatuan payoff claim)
The office of the DOJ Witness Protection Program, which has custody over Saliao, will also submit a report to De Lima outlining recommendations on Saliao's status as witness
De Lima likewise questioned the motivations of Santos and Saliao.
"Mas maganda nga siguro na imbes na nagpapa-interview, nagpapa-presscon, nagaakusa publicly through media, i-file na lang nila tamang kaso sa proper venue. Ombudsman, for example. Kung talagang may ebidensya may witnesses, file those cases right away in the proper forum," she said.
(Perhaps it is better that instead of interviews, press conferences, and public accusation through media, just [let them] file the cases in the proper venue. ombudsman, for example. If there is really evidence and witnesses, file those cases right away.)
Baraan for his part protested against what he saw as selective reporting of names in an alleged list of prosecutors bribed by the Ampatuans.
Only 3 names were mentioned from a list that supposedly contained more names, Baraan said, citing an ABS-CBN News television report.
The Ampatuans are facing criminal charges for allegedly ordering the execution of 58 people, including 32 journalists after their vehicle convoy was stopped on November 23, 2009. Those murdered also included relatives of Maguindanao governor Esmael Mangudadatu who were on their way to a COMELEC office to file Mangudadatu's candidacy for governor against Andal Ampatuan Jr.
The Ampatuans were the ruling clan in Maguindanao province for decades. They expanded their influence in the province by allegedly rigging elections in favor of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2004. – Rappler.com