The lawyer representing the families of Maguindanao massacre victims in the decade-long case admitted that she was offered a large sum of money to drop the case, a year after the killings happened.
Lawyer Nena Santos said in an ANC interview that the money was offered to her “about a year after” the massacre, which happened on Nov. 23, 2009 where 58 people died, including 32 media workers. Besides that, the relatives of the 38 victims were also presented the same amount to recant their testimonies.
“(It was) ‘leave the case and it’s yours.’ In the later part, they knew who (was) handling the overall strategy on whom to present. I think they were able to decipher that they had to remove (me) from the case,” Santos said.
After ignoring the offer, she added that she received death threats through text messages and phone calls.
“There were already so many killings in Maguindanao allegedly perpetrated by the (Ampatuan) clan (but) many people who were victims are afraid to go and file a case because of the fear of how powerful the clan was,” Santos stated.
“The brazenness is there because they thought they controlled the police, the military (and) the political arena there in Maguindanao. And they were close with Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, so that emboldens them to (carry out) this heinous crime.”
The Ampatuan regime in Maguindanao has extended their political power due to their friendship with the former President. Andal Ampatuan Jr. is among the primary accused in the decade-old massacre.
Santos also shared the sentiment of Rep. Esmael Mangudadatu, who lost his wife, sisters, cousins, and aunt in the killings. The hope is that the coming promulgation would serve as “an important precedent” for the justice system and democracy at large in the Philippines.
Moreover, she said the verdict would be the ultimate “litmus test” for the body of laws in the Philippines.
She is confident that the existing case was enough to yield a conviction against the major suspects.
Media groups considered the case as the worst election-related killing in the country.
Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 was scheduled to release its decision in November until Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes asked the Supreme Court for an extension.
The verdict is scheduled to come out on December 19 to live media coverage of its promulgation.