MANILA,Philippines – Progressive organizations have criticized anew the resurrecting of old and highly-believed to be trumped-up charges against the high-profile activist leaders Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, and Teddy Casiño.
According to Public Interest Law Center (PILC) “the trumped-up murder charges against Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, and Teddy Casiño have lost substantive ground because of court findings of false statements and bad faith of the complainants and witnesses, over the past 12 years.”
In a press conference Rachel F. Pastores, managing counsel of PILC said that a “serious doubt has been raised over the malicious statements of the witnesses, which were the sole basis of information about the murder charges. Their ‘unsubstantiated accusations and statements’ were found to be in bad faith, maliciously intended to besmirch the name and reputation of our clients”.
In 2007 Quezon City RTC Branch 95 Judge Edgardo B. Bellosillo decided in favor of Bayan Muna and Ocampo and awarded them P325,000 in damages after Bayan Muna and Ocampo filed a damage suit against Bayudang, et. al. for their untruthful statements that the four-party list congresspersons allegedly ordered the liquidation of former supporters who had converted to Akbayan party list.
Ocampo, et. al. moved for the dismissal of the charges for lack of probable cause. Palayan Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 40 Judge Evelyn A. Atienza-Turla in July 2008 then ordered the remand of the charges to the prosecutor’s office citing irregularities in the preliminary investigation.
On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that the remand was improper and that the RTC must decide if there is probable cause. On July 11, 2018, Judge Turla issued a two-paragraph order finding probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest.
But on July 11 this year,Turla issued a two-paragraph order finding probable cause for the issuance of warrants of arrest of the three murder case filed in 2006 by Isabelita Bayudang, Medelyn Felipe,and Mayumi Peralta for killing of Jimmy Peralta in 2001 and Carlito Bayudang in 2004.
Resurrected Dark Times
In his statement released in a press conference on Friday, Ocampo said the rebuke had solid basis: the rebellion case was the first “national-security-related” charge prepared by the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), created by President Arroyo in January 2005, to politically harass the vocal oppositionists and critics of her regime.
“After reviewing these facts, all I can say at this point – with due respect to the Presiding Judge of RTC Branch 40 of Palayan City, – is that this case certainly deserves a second look, and to be heard with the justice and fairness that we all desire,” said Ocampo.
It was under the Arroyo administration that various “trumped-up charges” were first filed against four legislators who were forced to seek custody at the House of Representatives for two months in 2006.
Human rights groups have alleged that this case was the handiwork of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime. Ten years ago, it was the IALAG which was created by Executive Order 493 were tasked by the government to gather more precise evidence against the perceived enemies of the state.
The IALAG is headed by National Adviser Norberto Gonzales and is composed of the Department of Justice, Department of National Defense, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Nationa Bureau of Investigations.
In a separate statement issued by National Anti-Poverty Commission Chair Liza Maza, she said that “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.”
The PILC is set to file a motion for reconsideration of the decision issued by Judge Turla dated July 11, 2018, finding probable cause and later on issued a Warrant of Arrests against the four ex-Makabayan solons.
Leaders from various progressive organizations have signified their support for the four ex-Makabayan solons.
The group led by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Movement Against Tyranny and Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan backed the call to junk the case and the issued warrant against Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, and Teddy Casiño due to “baseless and pointless accusations.”
The group also intensified calls to junk cases filed against other political prisoners and progressive leaders.(davaotoday.com)