Supervising Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III and the Department of Justice Panel of Prosecutors handling the Maguindanao massacre cases, condemn in the strongest terms, the allegations of Lakmodin Saliao to several media entities involving the alleged payoff of P50 million to compromise the trial.
Saliao, in an interview with a radio station on 4 August 2014, and reported on a news daily, alleged that at the time he was with the Ampatuans, he was tasked to deliver money to an Ampatuan lawyer for the purpose of bribing the public prosecutors and Undersecretary Baraan.
News reports quoted Saliao saying "Nasa Ampatuan pa ako noon. Ako mismo tumawag kay Atty. (Siegfried) Fortun para gumawa ng paraan kung paano namin mabayaran ang panel. Para po yun sa kalayaan ng mga Ampatuan at hindi na po makikialam ang DOJ sa pagkukulong sa mga Ampatuan."
"Kwento pa nito (Saliao) sa Bombo Radyo, naideposito nila ang pera na P20 million para kay Department of Justice Usec. Francisco Baraan III na nangangasiwa sa panel of prosecutors," the news reports said.
Undersecretary Baraan and the Panel of Prosecutors, vehemently deny having received any amount from the Ampatuan Camp.
It must be emphasized that:
(1) Saliao escaped from the Ampatuans on May 18, 2010;
(2) Saliao was admitted into the DOJ Witness Protection Program (WPP) on 15 July 2010;
(3) Undersecretary Baraan assumed his post In the DOJ on 16 August 2010;
(4) Undersecretary Baraan was designated Supervising Undersecretary of the Maguindanao massacre cases only on 22 November 2010; and
(5) the present panel of public prosecutors was constituted on 9 March 2011.
Based on this timeline alone, it is clear that Saliao's allegations are false.
Saliao's own story betrays his claims.
Clearly, when Saliao was still with the Ampatuans and before he turned against them in May 2010, Undersecretary Baraan was not yet in government and the present Panel was not yet constituted.
The Panel of Prosecutors is confident in the quality and strength of its evidence in order to bring justice to the victims and the Filipino people.
Notwithstanding the latest malicious and baseless attacks hurled against them this past week, the Panel of Prosecutors remains committed in its sworn duty to expeditiously and successfully prosecute these cases.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima expresses full trust and confidence in, and continuing support for Undersecretary Baraan and the Panel of Prosecutors.