MANILA, Philippines - The Maguindanao massacre trial suffered another delay on Thursday morning with the second day of absence of court-appointed interpreter, lawyer Rolando Abo of the National Commission for Muslim Filipinos.
Abo was already not feeling well yesterday and informed the court of his absence through text shortly before the proceedings started.
A source from the prosecution panel intimated to ABS-CBN News, however, that the reason behind Abo's absence is not purely for health reasons but for fear for his life.
The source claimed Abo is backing out of the proceedings, after hearing a threat from one of the suspects. "Hindi pa tayo tapos, may araw ka pa," were the words allegedly uttered to Abo's ear.
Abo was supposed to help Esmael Amel Enog, a former member of the Ampatuan’s civilian volunteers’ organization. Enog needed an interpreter since he only speaks the local language.
Abo's absence yesterday sparked a heated argument between prosecutors and defense lawyers.
The latter manifested their disappointment over the lack of preparation of the prosecution. They said the fiscals should have been prepared with another witness.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes ruled, however, that Abo's absence is not the fault of the prosecution nor the defense panel.
Meanwhile, the defense lawyers were surprised at the alleged reason for Abo's absence. "Wala naman kaming nalalaman na ganun," said lawyer Andres Manuel.
Lawyer Galilei Angeles frowned when asked by reporters outside the courtroom. He said Abo is an impartial interpreter worthy of the court's support.
Lawyer Paris Real, however, looks at the situation as a delaying tactic. "Pinatatagal na lang yata nila ang trial."
Before the court was adjourned this morning, Reyes assured effort will be exerted to ensure the presence of a court interpreter at next Wednesday's continuation of the trial at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology's facility in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig, Metro Manila. - from a report by Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News