Part of a scam

Part of a scam

* Toto describes Zaldy’s statement a strategy to evade from murder charges

 MAGUINDANAO Governor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, has described the statement of  Zaldy Ampatuan, former governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), to turn state witness in the Maguindanao massacre as part of a strategy to evade from murder charges filed against him.

Mangudadatu, whose wife was among the 57 people, including 32 journalists, killed in the Nov. 23, 2009 massacre in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao province, said Ampatuan is only creating a scenario to also let other suspects to turn around.

“Strategy lang nila yan, susunod nyang ilalabas na din nila yung iba pang miyembro ng kanilang pamilya hanggang maiwan na lang si Unsay (Andal Jr.),” he said.

He said they have already a lot of witnesses who can pinned down all the suspects charged for the gruesome mass murder, considered the worst case of political violence in the country’s history, as well as journalism’s greatest loss of life anywhere in a single day.

 “Marami na kaming testigo na makapagsasabi ng katotohanan, di na namin sya kailangan,” Mangudadatu said.

He said the families of other victims won’t also agree to turn Zaldy a state witness because they have substantial evidence that he allegedly conspired with the mastermind, Unsay, and his father, Andal Sr. to carry out the massacre.

Zaldy  was interviewed by GMA 7, ABS-CBN and Al Jazeera in his prison cell in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City last Monday on his intention to turn state witness against his own father and brother.

But aside from Mangudadatu and relatives of other victims, even Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is not also agreeable to Zaldy’s intention.

“As things now stand, we don’t need him [Zaldy]. We don’t need him for a successful prosecution,” De Lima said.

At the same time, De Lima said it would be unlikely that Zaldy will be made state witness because he is among the prime suspects.

“The public prosecutors cannot just enter into any deal especially with respect to [Zaldy’s] possible discharge as a state witness,” she said.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s justice secretary, now one of her legal advisers, Raul Gonzalez, also said it would not be possible for Zaldy Ampatuan to turn state witness if he is facing a conspiracy charge.

He argued that under the law of evidence, conspiracy must be proven independently of the crime itself.

Gonzalez said that if there was a decision to waylay and kill the Mangudadatus in a meeting or conclave before the incident and Zaldy was in it, then that does not save him.

He also added that it would be useless for the former President to testify for Zaldy Ampatuan if the charge is conspiracy.

Gonzalez said Arroyo can only give an alibi which would not save him from a conspiracy charge.

Arroyo was initially in the list of witnesses for the defense. She has since been dropped, but Gonzalez was listed in her place.

Gonzalez, however, said he did see Zaldy Ampatuan in Malacañan at the time of the massacre.

Gonzalez said there was a Cabinet meeting at that time but he couldn’t say for sure if Ampatuan joined the meeting.

This is also why Gonzalez disputed Ampatuan’s claim that Arroyo just doesn’t want to get involved.

“Paano siya ilaglag ni Presidente if he’s part of the conspiracy…when conspiracy is charged, bale wala ang alibi, whatever the President will say, wala na rin. Paano siya ilaglag kung may conspiracy? How can Gloria say he is not guilty if they can prove he is part of the conspiracy?” he said.



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