Roque says not afraid of libel raps filed by Ampatuans

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2010 01:32 PM | Updated as of Aug 02 2010 09:32 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Lawyer Harry L. Roque said he and his colleagues will not be cowed by the libel charges filed by the daughter of Andal Ampatuan, Sr.

In a press release, Roque said “this case is only meant to harass, badger and delay but CenterLaw will not be cowed by it.”

Roque is the executive director of Center for International Law (CenterLaw), "a private, non-stock, non-profit advocacy group that seeks to promote the rule of law to end impunity in the Philippines."

Bai Ameerah A. Mamalapat, the daughter of Andal Ampatuan, Sr., accused Roque of libel before the Office of the Prosecutor in Cotabato City last July 13.

She claimed Roque maligned the Ampatuan clan in an interview given to ANC’s Headstart.

There, Roque was interviewed regarding the death of a possible state witness, Suwaid Upham alias Jesse, allegedly in the hands of the employees of the Ampatuan clan.

The Ampatuans are now in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig for their links to the so-called Maguindanao massacre, which claimed the lives of 57 civilians, including journalists.

Upham was murdered last June 14 before he could be accepted into the Department of Justice’s witness protection program.

The prosecutor received 3 more complaint-affidavits supporting Mamalapat’s complaint.

Roque said the malice, in fact, lies in Mamalapat’s filing of the complaint in Cotabato, where Jesse was killed.

He said CenterLaw lawyers and their staff would already be at risk just going there to attend the hearings.

Nonetheless, he said that he and his colleagues will not be intimidated, nor will they go into hiding because of the case.