THE National Bureau of Investigation filed charges of bribery against a retired Air Force officer, who was the emissary of the Ampatuan clan in bribing key witnesses of the Maguindanao massacre.

Lawyer Ricardo Diaz, head of the NBI counter-terrorism unit, identified the suspect as retired Colonel Juanito Mariano.

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The complaint was lodged at the Department of Justice Wednesday, a day after Justice Secretary Leila de Lima ordered the filing of criminal charges to prevent the accused from harassing witnesses into recanting their statements.

Assistant Chief State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon said the DOJ will conduct a preliminary investigation on the complaint.

"To be fair, the DOJ will conduct a PI. There are human factors that have to be taken into consideration. We will look into that. The first thing to do is to verify the identity of the person," he said.

Diaz said that Mariano came to his office at the NBI on June 10 at about 3 p.m., seeking to be allowed to talk with Kenny Dalandag, one of the witnesses in the case who was currently detained at the NBI.

"There was an attempt to bribe Kenny Dalandag in the amount of P10 million that was coursed through me. He asked me if he could have access to Kenny Dalandag so he could ask him to execute an affidavit retracting his statement and clear Zaldy Ampatuan," the lawyer said.

"I continued to elicit information from him. Alam nya daw walang kinalaman si Zaldy, at inaanak nya iyon at close confidante ng pamilya Ampatuan. Sabi nya, kausap na daw nya mga relatives ni Kenny at may contact daw sila sa NBI," he added.

In his affidavit, Dalandag positively identified Zaldy as among those who were present during the planning of the massacre on November 22, 2009 at the house of Ampatuan patriarch, former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr.

The NBI official said he flatly denied Mariano's request and immediately prepared a communication in form of a letter with then Justice Secretary Alberto Agra and State Prosecutor Leo Dacera, informing them of the offer.

He said he did not arrest Mariano because he was not the subject of the bribe offer.

"He is not bribing me. I'm not the person being offered with the amount, so I don't think that was bribery. Wala ring pinakitang pera. He was just requesting for access to Kenny," he said.

Diaz said he is willing to undergo investigation himself to prove his allegations.

De Lima told reporters earlier that there had been at least two attempts by "emissaries" of the Ampatuan clan to bribe vital witnesses.(JCV/Sunnex)