House members close ranks in defense of 4 leftist leaders
Thirty-three lawmakers have signed a resolution expressing “utmost concern” over the arrest warrant for double murder issued against former Representatives Satur Ocampo, Liza Masa, Teddy Casiño and Rafael Mariano.
The resolution, introduced by the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc, implored the regional trial court in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija, to “reconsider” the arrest order issued by Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla last month.
The resolution was initiated by party-list Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna, Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis, Sarah Jane Elago of Kabataan, Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas of Gabriela, and Antonio Tinio and France Castro of ACT Teachers.
Signing the resolution were Representatives Tom Villarin, Michelle Antonio, Jose Panganiban Jr., Michael Romero, Enrico Pineda, Arnel Ty, Ron Salo, Orestes Salon, Raymond Democrito Mendoza, Virgilio Lacson, Victor Yap, Randolph Ting, Sandra Eriguel, Baby Aline Vargas-Alfonso, Napoleon Dy, Edcel Lagman, John Marvin Nieto, Pablo Ortega, Kit Belmonte, Erlpe John Amante, Isagani Amatong, Rolando Uy, Manuel Jose Dalipe, Rose Marie Arenas, Raul Daza and Eric Singson.
“Ocampo, Casiño, Masa and Mariano are esteemed and respected former representatives. Mariano even served as secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform and Masa is still serving as National Anti-Poverty Commission chair,” the three-page resolution stated.
The Makabayan bloc said the issuance of the warrant was surprising since the double murder cases had been dismissed by the same judge in 2008 for lack of probable cause.
“There is no explanation for the reversal of Turla’s order despite being based on the same evidence, facts and circumstances,” the resolution stated.
The signatories described as “unbelievable and preposterous” the claim that Ocampo and the others had ordered the murders to ensure the victory of Bayan Muna in the 2007 party-list elections.
“The murders for electoral purposes defy facts and logic. Bayan Muna garnered 1.7 million votes in the 2001 elections way above the threshold to gain three seats; it had surplus votes of half a million,” they said.
The four leftist leaders were charged for allegedly conspiring to kill ex-Bayan Muna supporters Carlito Bayudang and Jimmy Peralta in 2004 and 2003, respectively.
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