DOJ on wanted ex-lawmakers: No selective prosecution
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has no policy of selectively prosecuting certain individuals or groups, Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.
Guevarra was responding to allegations by Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas who brought up the case of four former party-list lawmakers facing murder charges in Nueva Ecija.
During the budget hearing of the House of Representatives appropriations committee, Brosas asked Guevarra if the agency had a role in the revival of the “trumped up” murder charges against Anti-Poverty Commissioner and former Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza, former Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño, and former Agrarian Reform Secretary and ex-Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate earlier dubbed them as the “Batasan 4.”
“‘Yung pagbuhay ng matagal nang ibinasura na gawa-gawang kaso na ito ano ang naging role ng DOJ?” Brosas asked Guevarra.
Guevarra said the DOJ had nothing to do with the case brought up by the Inter-Agency Legal Advisory Group (IALAG) which was formed during the term of then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The case stemmed from the murder of three farmers between 2001 and 2004.
The case has been going through the legal process since 2006 with the respondents questioning the actions of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) before the High Tribunal, which reportedly threw the case back to the court in Palayan City in February 2017.
Last July 11, Judge Evelyn Turla of the Palayan RTC Branch 40 reportedly issued a warrant of arrest for Maza, Ocampo, Casiño and Mariano.
“This case pending before the RTC in Nueva Ecija since 2006 and the RTC has acquired jurisdiction of the case… It issued a warrant recently and their motion for reconsideration is now submitted for resolution,” Guevarra told Brosas.
“Ang problema namin dito ay ang bilis-bilis ng aksyon ng DOJ lalung-lalo na pag magsasampa ng kaso sa mga aktibista… Pero pagdating sa karapatang pantao, ano ‘yung ngagawa ng DOJ na mabilis sa mga kaso na ito?” Brosas asked.
“Baka mabilis lang tayo doon sa tingin natin kalaban sa pulitika?” she added, relating to the 12-year-old case.
Guevarra responded: “We have no such policy to identify certain groups for priority area for prosecution. As far as DOJ is concerned, we are ready to act on any complaint regardless of who the respondents are.”
Meanwhile, Maza earlier said, “it is perhaps no coincidence that this charge has resurfaced just as Arroyo assumed the Speakership of the House – a former President with an axe to grind – while the IALAG had been reconstituted under the current administration as the Inter-Agency Legal Action Committee (IALAC).”
Guevarra said the DOJ is not part of the IALAC. /cbb
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