Three more party-list lawmakers may be arrested after murder charges are filed against them before the Nueva Ecija prosecutor’s office, a human rights lawyer said yesterday.
Lawyer Nere Colmenares of the Council for Defense for Civil Liberties (CODAL) said Reps. Liza Maza, Rafael Mariano and Teddy Casiño, along with Rep. Satur Ocampo, are accused of involvement in the murders of Bayan Muna supporters in Bongabong, Nueva Ecija.
Speaking to reporters in Quezon City, Colmenares said the series of arrests and filing of cases against party-list lawmakers could be part of a crackdown against the opposition in preparation for the implementation of the anti-terror law, which takes effect after the May 14 elections.
Ocampo is now the subject of a police manhunt after the Leyte regional trial court ordered his arrest in connection with a New People’s Army purge in Inopacan town in Leyte more than 20 years ago.
Police raided the Quezon City home yesterday of Ocampo, but failed to find the lawmaker, who authorities believe is still in Metro Manila.
If this is true, then I too question the timing of this, just like I question the timing of the arrest warrant on Satur Ocampo delivered just a few weeks before election day.
Ah... But maybe this is the admin's way of showing Phillip Alston and the UN that they are wrong! WRONG! re their report -- by "exposing" party listers like Satur, Lisa and Teddy as the true masterminds of the extrajudicial killings!
Ganyan rin ang sinabi ni Conrad de Quiros sa latest article nya ngayon:
LET ME BE CLEAR: I PERSONALLY WELCOME the authors of the “killing fields,” or communist purges, being prosecuted and punished severely where they are found guilty. I’ve held that position from the very beginning. Some of my friends are either survivors of those purges or the kin of the dead, and I am an ardent supporter of their quest for justice. We can no more turn a blind eye to those killings, or dismiss them as just the internal, if lethal, intramurals of the enemy, and which probably do the community a service, than we can to the killings that have been happening plentifully in our midst over the last several years.
Having said that, I protest most vehemently the arrest warrant on Satur Ocampo. That is an abomination that has no right to exist in a country pretending to be a democracy. Indeed, in a country pretending to have elections.
What’s wrong with it is everything.
At the very least its timing sucks.
The arrest warrant comes at a time when the international community has been loudly condemning the killings in the Philippines. Philip Alston and the Melo Commission have directly attributed those killings to military elements - the Melo Commission has expressly named Jovito Palparan. They have further raised the issue of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s culpability in them.
The arrest warrant against Ocampo is clearly an attempt by the government to hijack the public’s attention away from it. While at the same time selling that idiotic idea, which it has maintained throughout the Alston and Melo investigations, that it’s the NPA and not the military that is responsible for the killings, presumably in continuation of the purges. Whether or not the police actually serve the warrant against Ocampo, the mere fact of issuing it allows the government to press this point, or at least - since it cannot seriously expect to persuade a cynical public to buy it - to muddle the issue and take some of the sting out of the global opprobrium over the killings.
Or maybe it's just the admin's attempt to preempt and cast doubt on Satur Ocampo before leaves for the US to testify before the US Senate committee on foreign relations?
Meanwhile, embattled Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, also yesterday vowed to participate through whatever means in the upcoming United States Senate hearing on the continued extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.
Although still unsure as to how he would participate in the March 14 US Senate committee on foreign relations hearing, Ocampo said he would not allow government harassment to prevent him from doing so.
In an announcement posted on the US government’s Web site, the subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs will hold a hearing to “examine strategies to end the violence relating to extra-judicial killings in the Philippines.”
Ocampo said he intends to participate in the investigation in whatever manner, claiming the right to do so as he is the president of Bayan Muna, many members of which had fallen victim to extra-judicial killings.
Militant group Karapatan has recorded more than 830 cases of political killing from the time Mrs. Arroyo assumed the presidency in January 2001.
Ocampo, now the subject of a manhunt after an arrest warrant was issued against him by a Leyte judge over a revived multiple murder case, is now in hiding but vowed to surface in due time.
The congressman extended his gratitude to US Sen. Barbara Boxer, chief deputy Democratic whip in the US Senate and a senior member of the foreign relations committee, for accommodating requests from various organizations and churches in the Philippines.
These groups have asked the US Senate to investigate the continued extrajudicial killings in the country.
The hearing will be followed by the convening of the second session on the Philippines of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal on March 21 to 25 in The Hague, The Netherlands.
And from the PDI Editorial: What a difference a legitimacy crisis makes
Six years ago, the Arroyo administration welcomed Bayan Muna’s lead nominee, Satur Ocampo, to its miting de avance. Today, the Arroyo administration, still in the throes of a crisis of legitimacy it likes to pretend has already been resolved, is maneuvering to put Ocampo behind bars.
Ocampo, a former communist rebel who has become the face of the legal, militant opposition, may surface today to file a petition with the Supreme Court. But we are certain that, even if he successfully extricates himself from the new charge filed against him, more charges lie in wait for him and his colleagues in leftist party-list groups.
Kiko Pangilinan was the first senatorial candidate to condemn the raid on Satur's house.
Ping Lacson also questioned the timing of Satur's arrest warrant since lamang ang Bayan Muna sa polls:
In Laguna, meanwhile, Sen. Panfilo Lacson questioned the timing of the arrest warrant on Ocampo, saying it came out at a time Bayan Muna was among the leading parties in a survey.
While he declined to "advise" Ocampo on whether to submit himself to the courts, he recalled that in May 2001 he and then Sen. Gregorio Honasan refused to turn themselves in when Malacañang declared a state of rebellion and ordered their arrest.
But he pointed out that in his and Honasan's case in 2001, it was a unilateral order by Malacañang. In Ocampo's case, he said the order for his arrest stemmed from a court order.
"Maraming legal remedies. Dapat exhaust niya lahat (There are many legal remedies and he should exhaust them all first)," he said.
MLQ3 says na Ocampo must face the charges squarely and under whatever circumstances, unfair or not, so that a trial may play out.
Amando Doronila: Police raid reenacts repressive methods of Marcos regime
Erap also condemned the troop deployments in Metro Manila.
According to the detained leader, “the AFP had first tried to justify this urban troop deployment on the pretext of ‘responding to requests from barangay officials for help in maintaining peace and order.’ When told that this was a usurpation of the function of the PNP (Philippine National Police), the AFP was forced to admit that this was really part of its “counterinsurgency operations.”
Estrada said, “In the light of a recent SWS (Social Weather Stations) survey result that leftist party-list organizations like Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis and Gabriela are the top preferences of voters, it has become very obvious to me that this urban troop deployment is a very partisan electoral psy-war operation designed by GMA (Mrs. Arroyo’s intiials) and her generals to prevent the leaders of Bayan Muna and other anti-GMA party-list organizations from being elected to the House of Representatives and added to the pro-impeachment bloc.”
He called on officers and soldiers of the AFP to stand by their constitutional role as protectors of the Filipino people and to oppose any further attempts by their commanders to use them for partisan electoral activities like what allegedly happened during the 2004 elections.
More on the same article:
Ocampo is apparently not alone in his fight against what many see as political harassment as law enforcers also yesterday continued to be under fire from the political opposition in connection with the the issuance of the arrest warrant against the congressman, which authorized a raid on the lawmaker’s Quezon City residence over the weekend, an incident they claimed further highlighted the charges against him as only aimed at crippling his bid for another term in the House.
Reelectionist Sen. Francis Pangilinan and Genuine Opposition senatorial bet Francis “Chiz” Escudero also yesterday slammed those who effected the raid, saying it is undeniable that an abuse of authority was committed this time.
Both rallied behind Ocampo, with Pangilinan noting the party-list representative is being singled out by the government, to the extent of resorting to strong-arm tactics.
Escudero, in chiding the government, said while the Anti-terrorism law, of 2007, the Human Security Act, is yet to be implemented, it is now practically being enforced.
“Clearly, this is harassment and bullying tactics against a member of the minority, a member of the opposition. Just because they don’t share the same opinion (with the administration), they should be subjected to arrest, issuance of arrest warrant or filing of charges,” he said.
Escudero urged Ocampo to seek all possible legal remedies in defending his rights even as he is entitled under the law to be protected by the government amid the charges hurled at him.
Read this too from Ninez Cacho Olivarez.
Last year, her cops arrested another leftist party-lister, Crispin Beltran, on charges of rebellion, claiming later that they had a warrant of arrest for him for the crime of rebellion — which was a 20-year-old arrest warrant. Beltran has been languishing in detention for over a year and the courts don’t seem to be moving a finger to right whatever wrong there is.
This will happen to Ocampo too. All Gloria and her partisan generals want is to clamp these leftists in jail, to get them out of Congress and put their party-listers in the House of Representatives — naturally with the full assistance of their obedient Comelec.
Didn’t the Comelec already say it can’t demand that the military pull out its troops in Metro Manila since what they do is not a political activity? This is Comelec’s claim, despite the photos, videos and affidavits from party-list groups that the soldiers have been harassing and intimidating voters into rejecting the leftist party-list groups.