MANILA, Philippines - Fearless and direct to the point. This was how people described the testimony of former Ampatuan helper Laks Saliao against his former employers in the first trial day of the Maguindanao massacre case on Wednesday (September
Saliao was an aide of Andal Ampatuan Sr..
Saliao testified that the Ampatuan family met twice before the massacre, where they discussed how to stop Esmael Mangudadatu from filing his certificate of candidacy for governor of Maguindanao.
Saliao said Ampatuan Sr. asked his family if they agreed with the plan to kill all the people in the Mangudadatu convoy. Saliao recalled that people laughed upon hearing the Ampatuan patriarch's question, and then agreed to the plan.
Saliao also said former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan approved of the plan, as long as it wouldn't be traced back to them.
Zaldy Ampatuan has asked the Court of Appeals to remove him as a suspect in the killings.
On the day of the massacre, Saliao said Ampatuan Sr. ordered his son, Andal Jr., not to kill the journalists travelling in the convoy. But Andal Jr. reportedly said everyone needed to be killed so there would be no witnesses left.
Saliao also testified that the day after the massacre, the Ampatuan family planned how Andal Jr would be surrendered to the custody of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and representative Didagen Dilangalen through Presidential Adviser on Mindanao Secretary Jesus Dureza.
The prosecution believes Saliao's testimony is a smoking gun that directly links the Ampatuans to the crime. But the defense tried to cast doubt on Saliao's testimony, saying it seemed that Saliao was coached on what to say.
The defense questioned how Saliao could detail the alleged participation of almost 30 members of the Ampatuan clan in the crime. But the prosecution defended Saliao.
"Labing-dalawa yung taon na naninilbihan [siya] sa Ampatuan. Sa tagal niya na kasambahay, kilala niya kahit naka-pikit ang mata niya kilala niya yung mga 'yon," Nena Santos, lawyer for the prosecutor said.
Family members of the massacre victims are also happy about Saliao's testimony.
"Masayang-masaya kami dun sa witness na umupo kanina doon sa witness stand. Kahit nag-iisa lang siya na witness, sapat na para ma-resolba yung kaso," Monette Salaysay, wife of one of the victims said.
"Sana ito na ang umpisa na mabuksan na talaga ang totoong justice," Noemi Falcon said.
Lawyer Harry Roque, who represents some of the victims families, said it is important that former President Arroyo be called to testify in the case especially since she was included in Saliao's testimony.
Saliao is scheduled to testify again on how the Ampatuans allegedly tried to cover up their involvement in the killings
source abs cbn