BAGUIO CITY (Mar. 20) — The government cannot use 20-year old murders as evidence to pin down Bayan Muna party list Representative Satur Ocampo, his colleagues, both in the Senate and Bayan Muna told the media early this week.
Ocampo is presently detained at the Western Police District on charges he is allegedly involved in a mass murder in Leyte some 20 years ago.
Bayan Muna National Vice-president Manny Loste, in a press conference Tuesday morning said the way the government is treating Ocampo is a mockery of the country’s judicial system and the rule of law.
“This is an outright violation of the due process and the right of a political leader like Ka Satur,” Loste told Baguio-based tri-media.
In another press conference earlier that day, Senator Noynoy Aquino who is seeking a relection in the Senate, similarly opined that the 20-year murder charges against Ocampo does not hold water.
“There is supposed to be a deadline in the filing of charges,” Aquino, son and namesake of slain Sen. Benigno Aquino Sr. said.
He added the charges against Ocampo are more of harassment rather than getting the course of the wheels of justice, iterating there is a prescription period for charges and that speedy trial should be guaranteed.
“This is not the issue at hand,” Aquino said, adding that Ocampo was not in hiding in the past six years can be enough reason to deduce he is innocent of the charges. Aquino also questioned the credibility of witnesses that have come out. “There should be no double standard in the interpretation of the law,” the senatorial aspirant said.
Loste, who is based in the Cordillera share Aquino’s views and urged the courts to expedite the dismissal of trumped up charges and to immediately release Ocampo.
Ocampo was arrested when he came out to file a position paper at the Supreme Court some two weeks ago. Vigils for his safety have since gathered human rights advocates and political allies amid government efforts to have him transferred to a Leyte jail. The alleged mass murders he is accused of allegedly happened in that western Visayan province.
Ocampo earlier raised some factual evidence and facts that apparently belie the charges, among them is that he was in military custody when the alleged communist purges happened in 1985.
Lately, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) criticized the government for imposing an interview ban on Ocampo. # Lyn V. Ramo for NORDIS