Nueva Ecija public prosecutors refused to comment on a motion for reconsideration on double murder charges and warrants of arrests against four activist leaders at a hearing in Palayan City Friday morning, August 3.
Lawyers of National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza and fellow former Makabayan bloc representatives Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano and Teddy Casiño told reporters in a press briefing outside the Palayan Regional Trial Court (RTC) that the prosecutors had no comment when asked about the motions.
“When the public prosecutors were asked to comment on the motion for reconsideration, they simply submitted it to the judge’s discretion,” Public Interest Law Center (PILC) managing counsel Rachel Pastores said.
“This made the hearing very quick; travel time from Manila to here was in fact longer,” Pastores added.
Dozens of activists travelled to Nueva Ecija early Friday morning and held a picket in front of Palayan City RTC Branch 40 to support the four leaders.
Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla inhibited herself from the case since last August 1 and the case was raffled off to Judge Trece Wenceslao instead.
Turla issued arrest orders against the four last July 11 stemming from a 2006 double murder charge against them.
The judge, who told the public prosecutor in July 2008 that the case did not meet her standards, reversed herself and said in an order that she now finds probable cause to proceed with the trial against the four accused.
Pastores said they are hoping that the court would decide on their motion within 10 days as the arrest order is “unjust and without legal basis.”
The double murder charge stemmed from a complaint by a Cleotilde Peralta and an Isabelita Bayudang who alleged that the four activist leaders met in 1998 to plan the assassination of former Bayan Muna (BM) members who have left the party.
Peralta said her husband was ran over and killed in 2001 while Bayudang said her husband was shot to death in 2004 upon orders of the four accused and others.
In 2016, Peralta and Bayudang were found liable for damages in a civil suit and were ordered to pay P325,000 to Ocampo by Quezon City RTC Branch 95.
The QC RTC said Peralta and Bayudang lied when they alleged BM already existed in 1998 when it was in fact created only in 2000.
Peralta and Bayudang’s petition to have Bayan Muna disqualified using the same allegations were also dismissed by the Commission on Elections in 2008. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)