While the relatives of the Ampatuan massacre victims welcomed the arrest of another suspect, prosecution lawyers are unsure if he can be a state witness.
Police arrested Mochtar Daud, a former driver of the Ampatuan clan blamed for orchestrating the massacre in November 2009, before dawn in Pasay City on Sunday.
“So far wala pa kaming balita kung magte-testify siya o hindi. Mahirap, meron kaming pinoprosesong ibang witnesses...may motion to discharge para maging state witness, masasabi niya sino mga driver at kasama," lawyer Nena Santos said in an interview on dwIZ radio.
(So far we have no idea if Daud will testify or not. It is hard to say if he can be made a state
witness. We are preparing other potential state witnesses...We are focusing on a motion to discharge that policeman as an accused so he can say who were the drivers and who else were with them.)
Santos said the arrest of Daud complements other developments such as the holding of two hearings a week starting November.
She said “Tuloy-tuloy na ang hearing, masaya ang pamilya at natutuwa na tuloy-tuloy ang pagdinig sa kaso (The hearings are ongoing. The families are glad that the case is rolling.)
She also said that while the case is not going as quickly as they would have liked, at least the wheels of justice have started rolling.
“Di pa natin masabing malapit na, pero at least naumpisahan nating gumulong ang gulong ng hustisya (We cannot say we are very close to justice at this stage. But at least the wheels of justice have started rolling)," she said.
Intelligence operatives arrested Daud after midnight Saturday while he was watching an illegal motorcycle race in Pasay City. Daud denied involvement in the massacre.
At least 57 people were killed, 32 of them journalists, when armed men abducted and murdered them in Ampatuan town in Maguindanao on November 23 last year.
When asked if the victims’ families consider Daud’s arrest a good development even if his being a state witness is not yet sure, Santos said they do.
“Opo kasi marami pa silang nasa labas pa, di pa nahuli (They consider his arrest a good development because there are still so many suspects still at large)," Santos said.