Cops must not compel the innocent to surrender – lawyers group

Jul. 31, 2018

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Dir. Gen. Oscar Albayalde’s appeal to former party-list lawmakers—including National Anti-Poverty Commission chief Liza Maza— to surrender, is wrong and an injustice, the legal counsel of the group asserted on Monday.

In a statement, lawyer Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) said the PNP “should not compel the innocent to surrender”.

“It is not fair and just for the PNP to ask the four former party-list representatives to surrender themselves pursuant to a warrant of arrest, when it stems from a clearly trumped-up charge that the PNP, the military, and the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group initiated 12 years ago. This was part of the legal offensive policy of the Arroyo administration against progressive leaders of mass organizations,” she said.

The Nueva Ecija Palayan City Regional Trial Court Branch 4 issued an arrest order last week against former Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño, former Gabriela Representative Maza, former Agrarian Reform Secretary and ex-Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, Vicente Cayetano, Delfin Pimentel and Emeterio Atalan.

The warrant was due to a multiple murder case the Nueva Ecija police filed against the accused in 2006 during the administration of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

At a press conference on Monday in Camp Crame, Albayalde said the police were “duty-bound” and “constitutionally mandated” to implement the arrest order.

But Pastores said the revival of the case at this time was suspicious “when the private complainants and their alleged witnesses have already been found lying about the facts in this case in different arenas”.

She said her clients “are not in hiding but considering the climate of impunity, they are taking the necessary precautions while they weigh all options to ensure their safety and protect their rights.”

Pastores added that they will face the charges against them and would file a Motion for Reconsideration asking the Palayan court to reverse and set aside its July 11, 2018 order finding probable cause and to dismiss the charges against them.

Trumped-up charges

Pastores also argued why the Palayan court should dismiss the murder charges against progressive individuals.

She said the order of Judge Evelyn A. Atienza-Turla dated July 11, 2018 to issue warrants of arrest against the four directly contradicts her order dated July 18, 2008. Ten years ago, the same judge said that she could not find probable cause, or reason to issue warrants of arrest against the four accused.

The lawyer also stressed that there is serious doubt about the murders.

“According to police reports, Jimmy Peralta was killed in a hit-and-run. Even in the alleged hitman’s affidavit, he claimed to have hit Peralta’s motorcyle. Peralta was thrown into the path of an oncoming vehicle that hit and killed him. Thus, his death was first registered as a hit and run accident,” she said.

Pastores also said the “murder charges and the conspiracy are largely based on the confession of Julie Sinohin, the alleged hitman and rebel returnee.”

“The allegations against our clients are outright lies: Secretary Liza, Ka Satur, Ka Paeng, and Teddy could never order anybody to kill persons just so Bayan Muna could win in the elections. It is a cheap storyline by the PNP and the military with the clear intention to malign and persecute them for their political activities,” Pastores underscored.

“The charges clearly being trumped up, it is a matter of fairness and justice that these cases must be dismissed,” she added.(

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