9/28/2011

QUE ... PENSER !

Typhoon Pedring might have left the country but its effects remain felt even inside the four corners of the makeshift courtroom where the Maguindanao massacre trial is being held in Taguig City.

On Wednesday, the cross-examinations of witnesses Norodin Mauyag and Cpl. Zaldy Raymundo did not push through after one of the defense lawyers failed to show up at the scheduled hearing inside Camp Bagong Diwa.

Through his associate, defense lawyer Andres Manuel informed Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of the Regional Trial Court Branch 221 that he could not attend the hearing because his community was hit by floods spawned by Pedring's heavy downpour.

"The house of Atty. Manuel has been affected by floods," said Manuel's associate, lawyer Michael Uy.

Court records show that Manuel's law office is located in Ortigas in Pasig City, but his residence is reportedly in Bulacan, one of the provinces heavily affected by massive floodings spawned by Pedring, which continues with its west northwest movement away from the Philippines.

Joint affidavits

Mauyag was a local farmer in Maguindanao who claimed to have seen prime suspect Andal Ampatuan Jr. and several armed men hurt the massacre victims after flagging them down at a checkpoint in Barangay Salman on Nov. 23, 2009.

Raymundo, meanwhile, was stationed at a military detachment at Sitio Masalay in Barangay Salman when the Ampatuans' supposed private army started building up in the area and setting up a checkpoint prior to the massacre.

Earlier, Manuel requested the court if he could cross-examine Raymundo, particularly about a joint affidavit that the soldier did not present before Solis-Reyes. Raymundo had submitted the same during a separate administrative hearing of the National Police Commission on the Maguindanao carnage.

Due to Manuel's "substantive justification," Solis-Reyes granted the defense lawyer's request to instead conduct his cross-examination of the witnesses during the next hearing on Thursday.

Airport crew strike

With two of its witnesses not being cross-examined, the prosecution would have wanted to present other witnesses for the day just to keep things moving in the trial.

However, the prosecution told Solis-Reyes it could not yet present the other reserved witnesses because they only arrived in Manila Wednesday from General Santos City and did not have enough time.

The reserved witnesses, including Scene Of the Crime Operative (SOCO) PO3 Joey Lebuna who was supposed to testify after Mauyag, was supposed to arrive in Manila on Tuesday via Philippine Airlines but their flights were affected by the work stoppage by the firm's ground crew.

The massacre trial went on a two-week break after Solis-Reyes availed of her leave priviliges provided under the Magna Carta of Women.

Standing accused in the murder trial are prominent members of the Ampatuan clan including patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his three sons, as well as more than a hundred of their supposed private militiamen and members of the local police.

A total of 57 people, including 32 journalists and mostly belonging to an electoral convoy of Ampatuan rival and then gubernatorial candidate Esmale "Toto" Mangudadatu, were killed in the carnage.

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