Provincial gov't employee takes witness stand on Maguindanao massacre trial

January 25, 2012 11:09 pm 

MANILA, January 25 — An employee of the Maguindanao provincial government on Wednesday told the court hearing the Maguindanao massacre case that the backhoe used to bury the victims of the grisly killings was owned by the provincial government.

Taking the witness stand before the sala of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes, Entang Pinagayao admitted that the backhoe was a property of the provincial government.

Pinagayao was then the provincial property custodian at the time of the massacre.

But instead of objecting, defense lawyer Sigfrid Fortun stipulated that Pinagayao would be able to identify the documents showing that the province owned the backhoe and that these documents were authentic.

“That’s not damaging to us. In fact, we are going to use these same documents later,” a confident Fortun said after the Wednesday hearing on case in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig.

With the defense agreeing to stipulate, the prosecution proceeded to mark the documentary evidence and Pinagayao was dismissed after giving his testimony.

The families of the 57 massacre victims have pointed to the backhoe — which bore the words “Property of the province of Maguindanao-Gov. Datu Andal Amptaun Sr. — as a sign that the Amptuans were involved in the killings.

It was allegedly abandoned by the armed men responsible for the killings as Army soldiers approached the massacre site.

Among the documents marked Wednesday were papers that showed that Maguindanao also owned the “prime mover” truck that, according to government witnesses, was used to transport the back up to the foot of the hill where the killings happened.

Also on Wednesday, defense lawyer Andres Manuel reiterated the defense motion that Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes hold separate hearing days for the testimony of the private complainants in the case.

Manuel noted that this would make the regular hearings on Wednesdays and Thursdays exclusive for primary government witnesses.

However, private prosecutor Nena Santos objected, adding that there were now only 15 remaining private complainants who have yet to take the witness stand. (PNA)

DCT/CLTC

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