Prized jewel or scoundrel?

MANILA, Philippines—University of the Philippines law professor Theodore Te said that having Zaldy Ampatuan testify in possible cases against former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will put the government, especially Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, in a position of conflict of interest.

“She is the official who will indict Zaldy in the massacre case. If the CA [Court of Appeals] denies Zaldy’s petition, the case will go back to the Regional Trial Court. It’s the DOJ [Department of Justice] that will prosecute that. At the same time, here is De Lima, so excited to convene a joint commission on the elections to hear Zaldy.”

“She is dealing with the same person in two different capacities: in one she is encouraging him, in the other, she is not.”

Te believes government’s inability to decide on Ampatuan’s status may affect the massacre case.

“Because he is the prized jewel in one and he is the scoundrel in the other so of course, if he is the prized jewel in the second case, you want to keep him happy. How do you keep him happy? Keep him out of the massacre case.”

Te also wonders why Malacañang bothers listening to Ampatuan when all he has said so far is hearsay, and why it is allowing him to give statements in installments. (Read:Zaldy and the President’s Ear)

“Zaldy already knows he has the ear of the President because the President himself said it, ‘Let’s listen to him.’ If I were Zaldy, I would be very happy. I got into Malacañang,” he toldNewsbreak.

Te said that the government should have dealt with Ampatuan more methodically. “Put him in a room of state prosecutors with his counsel, and ask him to talk. If they like what they hear, then proceed to executing an affidavit. If they don’t like what they hear then move on.”

If the government is serious in getting information out of Ampatuan, Te said it can push him to give valuable leads and build a case against the former president away from media scrutiny.

“You build a case in secret. Why? So that the accused will not know what cards you have. Here, they parade Zaldy, they parade Bedol, they planned to parade Garci. And their accused here is not an ordinary accused. This is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.”

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