A PRIVATE prosecutor representing the families of 31 journalists in the Maguindanao massacre case sought the testimony of Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo even if the defense panel dropped her from the list of witnesses last week.

Lawyer Harry Roque made the disclosure during Tuesday afternoon pre-trial of the case in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City at the sala of Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 221 Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes.

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“We want Mrs. Arroyo to take the witness stand as a hostile witness to prove that the impunity of which the crime took place was made possible by the close relationship between the accused and her,” Roque said.

He said he has the “blessings” of Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila De Lima on his move. “Nagpaalam ako kay Secretary De Lima tungkol dito.”

The Ampatuans, like their rival clan the Mangudadatus, were known political allies of the previous Arroyo administration.

In 2006, Arroyo signed Executive Order 546, allowing local chief executives to form auxiliary forces, supposedly to battle rebels in southern Philippines but also, critics say, served as loyal private armies.

Last week, defense counsels also manifested to the court their intension to present Arroyo as the first in their list of witnesses.

But during the preliminary conference of the case, the defense decided to de-list the former President, saying that her testimony could be corroborated by other witnesses.

The prosecution, for its part, listed more than a hundred witnesses including actual eyewitnesses, forensic experts, policemen, relatives and families of the victims and military officers.

Also taking the witness stand for the prosecution were National Bureau of Investigation Counter-Terrorist Unit chief Ricardo Diaz, former Ampatuan Vice Mayor Rasul Sangki, and his uncle Datu Mohamad Sangki. (AH/Sunnex)