MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - The defense team in the Maguindanao massacre trial has confirmed that former President and now Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is first on their list of their witnesses.
Other potential witnesses are losing presidential candidate and former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, former presidential advisers Jesus Dureza and Prospero Pichay and former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima is also on the list, most likely due to her role as chairwoman of the Commission on Human Rights.
The defense team revealed the list of witnesses during the Maguindanao massacre pre-trial case, which was supposed to take place on Friday morning.
The proceedings were postponed due to the absence of Atty. Nelson Roque, counsel for accused Inspector Michael Joy Macaraeg.
Meanwhile, the prosecution has listed 174 witnesses with reservation to present others. On the list are actual eyewitnesses, experts, policemen, families of the victims, and military officials.
Earlier reports said Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong will also be called as a witness for the prosecution.
The prosecution also listed Teodoro, who supposedly dissuaded then Vice Mayor Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu from seeking an elective post.
Mangudadatu’s wife, Genalyn, was 1 of the 57 killed in the Maguindanao massacre, which is considered one of the bloodiest election-related incidents in the country's history.
One of the suspects in the crime, former Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., pleaded not guilty for the 57th time last week.
He had already pleaded innocent to 56 murder counts.
The other suspects had to appear again before the sala of Quezon City Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes for their plea in the case of the last victim, Victor Nuñez, a reporter for UNTV channel.
Nuñez’s case had not been included in the original charge sheet because of delays in identifying his remains.
-- with a report from Ces Drilon, ABS-CBN News