Secretary De Lima Condemns Attack on DOJ Provincial Prosecutor Balt

17 March 2011

The Department of Justice (DOJ) received alarming report of an ambush incident that targeted, once again, a member of the Department's National Prosecution Service (NPS).

The incident took place yesterday at around 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon, when Maguindanao Provincial Prosecutor Akilali Balt was on his way home onboard his service vehicle, a black Isuzu pick-up with plate number LEH 282. He, along with his driver Dandan Balt Datu Dakula, were fired upon by two (2) unidentified gunmen, who were riding a single, black and white Honda Wave motorcycle with plate number MI 1025, which upon verification appears to be registered to a certain Asma Samaon.

The riding-in-tandem suspects opened fire on the two victims, causing several injuries to Provincial Prosecutor Balt, including gunshot wounds on his lower right ear, lower right neck and right forearm, while causing slight injuries to Dakula. They were immediately brought to the hospital, where the prosecutor is still in critical condition and undergoing surgical operation.

The ambush was perpetrated in broad daylight, on a busy highway in Rosary Heights, Mother Barangay, Cotabato City, while the victims' car was caught in a traffic jam. The suspects, who were reportedly armed with caliber .45 pistols, were seen fleeing towards the direction of Espino Area, Brgy. Bagua 2, Cotabato City.

Deeply disturbed by the violent incident, which investigators say may have been prompted by work-related motives, Justice Secretary Leila M. De Lima strongly condemned and denounced assault. She directed an immediate and thorough probe by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

"While it is too early to tell what the true motives for this attack were, we cannot disregard the impact this has on our fight against criminality and corruption," Secretary De Lima said.

"We will definitely explore the possibility that this was politically or professionally motivated as he is, in fact, handling sensitive cases involving high-ranking officials in Mindanao. If so, we intend to see that the perpetrators - most especially those who were behind this reprehensible and cowardly act - are swiftly brought to justice, in order to clearly show that we will not allow our prosecutors to be harmed with impunity," she said.

"It's a real shame that while we, in the DOJ, are doing our best to improve ourselves in order to execute our mandate more efficiently and effectively, there are still those who wish to thwart our efforts and bring down the morale of our prosecutors. This we cannot allow, and we shall treat these elements as the public enemies that they are."

Most recent report received by Secretary De Lima states that at least one of the suspects has already been apprehended and identified as Akmad Maliga y Makakena.

It will be remembered that last August, another Provincial Prosecutor, Lanao del Norte PP Macadatar Marsangca, was also attacked by two (2) motorcycle-riding assailants, who shot him in the head while he wasjogging at the Pryce Quadrangle, Tubod, Iligan City.

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