MANILA, Philippines -- The multiple murder case against Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and National Democratic Front member Luis Jalandoni will now be handled by the Manila Regional Trial Court after the Supreme Court granted a petition for a change of venue due to safety reasons.
The third division of the high tribunal approved the request made by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez on April 23, 2008, citing the danger to the lives of ?the witnesses, the prosecutor and the judge? if hearings were held in Hilongos, Leyte.
The SC en banc earlier denied a similar pleading made by Ocampo in April 2007 for ?lack of merit.?
Executive Judge Reynaldo Ros received the case, which will be raffled off among the RTC branches.
The three leftist leaders were among several others who were accused of ordering the execution of around 30 farmers in 1985 as part of supposed purging of military assets within the New People?s Army in Southern Leyte.
The respondents were tagged as members of the investigating and execution committees of the CPP-NPA, which supposedly abducted and tortured its members suspected of being military spies or informants.
Fifteen of the reported victims? bodies were found in a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte, in 2006.
The accused have denied involvement in the killings, but while Sison and Jalandoni remained in exile in the Netherlands, Ocampo was arrested by the police in March last year.