Philippines Massacre Witness Exposes Cover-up Plot

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The trial continues for a massacre that left nearly 60 people dead in the Philippines last November. Members of one political family are blamed for the bloodshed. And now one witness has come forward, saying the family has spent millions of dollars to keep people quiet.

The massacre trial involving a powerful political family in the Philippines continues today. Andal Ampatuan, Jr.’s family ruled Maguindanao province on the troubled southern island of Mindanao for nearly a decade. He stands accused of masterminding a massacre of members of a rival political clan, journalists and civilians.

And in the latest development a witness to the massacre of 57 people told a local court on Wednesday about plots to cover up the murders through intimidation and bribes.

Lakmodin Saliao, a trusted Ampatuan family helper, told the court nearly $9 million was offered to some government officials and police officers to help cover up the case.

Saliao decided to testify after he learned of plots to kill him and other Ampatuan supporters who knew too much about the massacre.

[Harry Roque, Victim’s Attorney]:
"We will ask the anti-money laundering council to open the accounts of the Ampatuans, because based on this witness's testimony, they released nearly $9 million U.S. dollars to cover up their role in this massacre."

Saliao says $226,000 was offered to a former cabinet member for charges to be dropped, as well as to the solicitor-general and staff of a hospital for participating in cover-up plans.

[Harry Roque, Victim’s Attorney]:
We will also ask the Department of Justice to investigate the people implicated in this testimony, because what the lawyers and doctors did was not only unethical, but also criminal. We have a crime called obstruction of justice."

Murder charges were also filed against Andal, Jr.'s father, uncle and three brothers as well as police and militia members, who are now in custody. Around 190 have been charged, but two-thirds of whom are still at-large.
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