From the Daily Tribune (Feb 28): Pemberton prosecutors in row among themselves
Private prosecutors are crying foul over moves of public prosecutors led by Olongapo City Prosecutor Emilie Fe de los Santos to block efforts to present evidence against US Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton during a pre-trial hearing.
Lawyer Harry Roque who represents the family of transgender Jennifer Laude, whose registered name is Jeffrey, wanted to include in the list of prosecution witnesses the commanding officer of the Pemberton’s unit as well as the American officers in possession of the accused’s service records and who facilitated the training at the Marine boot camp he attended.
Pemberton is facing criminal charges for the killing of Laude last October in Olongapo City.
Roque was not present during the hearing since he was at a conference on the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea) dispute at the Harvard Law School. The manifestation was submitted to the court by another member of the team, lawyer Romel Bagares.
De los Santos openly opposed the move.
In the arraignment hearing last Feb. 23, the fiscal also tried to prevent Bagares from adding additional names to the list of prosecution witnesses before the Olongapo regional trial court Branch 74.
“We cannot understand why she should do that. As the public prosecutor, she should cooperate with the private prosecutors in ensuring that justice is served in this case,” Bagares lamented.
Another private lawyer, Virgie Suarez also questioned such gesture by De los Santos.
“We wanted to have all corners covered. We did not expect that to come from her, since we are supposed to be on the same side,” she noted.
Roque said they have tried several times to reach an agreement with the fiscal on how they can work together on the case.
“But she has refused to talk to us in the most unprofessional way imaginable. She is making it easier for the defense by doing the latter’s work,” he stressed.
“We are constrained to bring this matter to the public’s attention because the public prosecutor herself is blocking cooperative efforts between us to obtain justice for the victim,” Roque added.
De los Santos has publicly declared that she will not allow private prosecutors any leeway in the presentation of the evidence for the criminal aspect of the case.
“Justice should not only be on the part of government troops, but also in the Bangsamoro,” he said.
Iqbal also said Muslims and Indonesians can travel freely from Davao del Sur to Indonesia and vice versa without a visa, and it was hard to determine who is a foreign terrorist.
“The Indonesians are our brothers, especially for the Muslims because they are also Malay,” he said. “We are only according them the Bangsamoro hospitality. We don’t know what they are doing.”
His statement came about amid reports that an Indonesian was among those killed with the MILF in Mamasapano.
“The MILF has no links with the terrorist groups like the Jemaah Islamiyah,” he said.
Chairman Iqbal stressed that the ‘misencounter’ between the SAF and the MILF was a result of lack of proper coordination.
“It is not easy to prove unless there is an incident. We were the ones attacked in 2001, 2003 and 2008. What happened here (Mamasapano) was there was no coordination.
The last encounter between MILF and military was in 2011 in Al Barka. No coordination also when the military are pursuing the Abu Sayyaf. Since then, there was no encounter except for the Jan. 25, 2015 incident. We need coordination there”, Iqbal said.
“MILF Chairman Al Haj Murad has not yet issued any statement on the Mamasapano shootout as the MILF Special Investigative Committee is conducting its own investigation so that similar incident shall not happen again in the future”, Iqbal continued saying.
“It is for internal purpose so that we will know the truth and to prevent what happened on January 25,” he further said. “We will issue an executive report after we have completed the investigation”, Iqbal further said.