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Ocampo, former lawmakers denounce arrest warrants

/ 07:18 AM July 28, 2018

SHOW OF SUPPORT Human rights lawyers Erin Tañada and Neri Colmenares, ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio, former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and other activists show their support for colleagues Satur Ocampo, National Anti-Poverty Commission head Liza Maza, Teddy Casiño and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano who are the subjects of arrest warrants issued by a Palayan City court. —LYN RILLON

Former leftist lawmakers and their allies on Friday said the arrest warrants issued against them were a revival of the persecution of Makabayan bloc members of the House of Representatives who had opposed then President now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo 12 years ago.

The Palayan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) two weeks ago ordered the arrest of former Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño, former Gabriela Rep. and now National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Chair Liza Maza, and former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano on double murder charges.

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Their lawyer, Rachel Pastores, said the charges were based on testimonies of “discredited” witnesses, who lost countercharges filed against them by Ocampo and the others. She said they would ask the court to reconsider its arrest order.

Ocampo and the three others were accused in 2006 of conspiring to kill Carlito Bayudang on May 6, 2004, in Bongabon, Nueva Ecija, and Jimmy Peralta on Dec. 3, 2003. Peralta, who was run over by a car, was allegedly mistaken for his brother, Ricardo, the alleged real target of the attack.

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In July 2008, Judge Evelyn  Atienza-Turla ordered the charges remanded to the prosecutor’s office, citing irregularities in the preliminary investigation. In 2017, the Supreme Court ruled the remand was improper and that the RTC must decide if there was probable cause. On July 11, Turla issued the warrants after finding probable cause.

‘No coincidence’

In a statement, Maza denounced the “continuing political persecution” by “rightists and militarists” within the Duterte administration seeking to oust her as NAPC head.

“It is perhaps no coincidence that this charge has resurfaced just as Arroyo assumed speakership of the House—a former President with an axe to grind,” Maza said.

The Makabayan bloc on Friday called the arrest order a “classic Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo move … being revived, especially now that she is the new House Speaker and is once again vying for more power.”

‘Climate of impunity’

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan secretary general Renato Reyes said it was easy to file the “trumped-up charges” under a “climate of impunity.”

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“We call on the Duterte administration to respect the rights of the (accused),” Reyes said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Malacañang respected the court’s independence. “We should therefore let the legal process run its course,” he added.

National Capital Region Police Office Director Chief Supt. Guillermo Eleazar said the officers would immediately serve the warrants once they get copies of them. —REPORTS FROM JODEE A. AGONCILLO, JULIE M. AURELIO, JAYMEE T. GAMIL, ALIANA LOIS DIAZ AND SAMMY WESTFALL

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TAGS: arrest warrant, Arroyo, Makabayan bloc, RTC
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