FOR the third time, a lead counsel for Maguindanao massacre principal accused Andal Ampatuan Jr. has withdrawn from representing him in the 58 counts of murder case filed against him before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court.
Judge Jocelyn Solis-Reyes of QCRTC Branch 221 said the court noted the withdrawal of appearance of Atty. Manuel Andres Jr. of Manuel Law Office as lead counsel for accused Ampatuan.
Records showed that the first lead counsel of Ampatuan was Atty. Sigfried Phillip Fortun but withdrew as his lead counsel in the midst of presentation of prosecution evidence on the bail petition of the accused.
Fortun, however, did not indicate in his withdrawal of appearance the reasons for backing out from the case.
Replacing Fortun was Atty. Salvador Panelo, who was the one who asked the court to allow his client to present defense witnesses in support of his bail petition.
However, Panelo also withdrew from the case in the midst of presentation of the defense witnesses.
Atty. Manuel, on the other hand, took over as the lead counsel and continued the presentation of defense evidence.
A week before Manuel filed his withdrawal of appearance, the law firm of Fortun's brother Raymund, filed in court an appearance as a collaborating counsel for Atty. Manuel.
Records showed that in the withdrawal of appearance of Atty. Manuel, he requested the court that decisions, orders, resolutions and other process it will issue, shall furnish the law firm of the younger Fortun.
In view of the request, Judge Reyes has directed Raymund’s law firm to inform the court within 48 hours if it will act as lead counsel for the accused.