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Free Satur and France; free the Lumad children

The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) condemns the illegal detention of Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and other delegates of the National Solidarity Mission (NSM) in Davao del Norte since 9:30 pm last night November 28 by the combined elements of the 56th IB, Philippine National Police and Municipal Social Work and Development Officers.

CRC also denounces threats of Anti-Trafficking and violation of RA 7610 charges against the NSM delegation, after rescuing the Lumad people from further harassment of the army and ALAMARA in their community following the closure of the main school of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkakanon Learning Center Inc (STTILCI) in Dulyan, Davao del Norte yesterday November 28, 2018.

The escalation of military attacks on schools spread fear and paranoia among children in the schools of STTILCI and the Lumad communities in Mindanao.

CRC calls for the release of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Rep France Castro and the rest of the NSM. End Martial Law in Mindanao. Let the children study in their schools, pull out military troops from the Lumad communities. #

Charges against Satur and aid group has no basis–LODI

The Duterte regime has reached a new low with the filing of preposterous human trafficking and kidnapping charges against veteran journalist, activist and human rights advocate Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro as they were on a fact-finding to aid beleaguered indigenous people in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

The arts and media alliance, Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity demands the immediate release of Ocampo and Castro and their 17 companions.

The charges are baseless, meant to cover up the truth: That it is the paramilitary groups Alamara and Magahat Bagani, commanded by the Philippine Army, that lay waste to Lumad communities. They should be the ones facing charges as they have killed Lumad leaders, shut down schools, and driven off communities from ancestral lands that President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to business and foreign patrons.

Ocampo is a a columnist with The Philippine Star and chairperson of the Board of Directors of Bulatlat.com. He joined the 19-member National Humanitarian Mission that went to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring aid to the Lumad.

Ocampo and the rest of the mission accompanied the Lumad evacuees at the Talaingod police station to lodge complaints against the paramilitary group Alamara. To preempt the human rights case, cops concocted their lies.

The charge has no basis. The parents of 29 Lumad students provided written statements of recognition for the mission’s presence and purpose.

This afternoon, Ocampo and the others were taken to Kapalong District Hospital and eventually to the Tagum City Prosecutors Office for inquest proceedings.

We repeat: accusing Ocampo, who is all of 79 years old, of trumped-up charges of kidnapping and human trafficking is preposterous. We demand that the Talaingod PNP withdraw its charges against Satur Ocampo and he is set free immediately.

We warn the Duterte government that detaining an elderly journalist who is only acting on his convictions that are well within his rights would earn the greater condemnation of the journalistic community in the Philippines and the world. #

On conspiracy tales vs. the resumption of peace talks

Press Statement
September 25, 2018

A recent interview of AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Carlito Galves and Brig. Gen. Antonio Parlade, Jr. revealed the sad truth that the Armed Forces of the Philippines remains in a quagmire of anti-democratic war-mongering, stale conspiracy peddling, and vicious red-tagging of known peace advocates in the GRP-NDFP peace process.

In dropping the names of Rey Casambre and former congressman Satur Ocampo as being in the center of an imagined, nay, invented conspiracy plot, the AFP has provided concrete evidence that they are indeed war-mongering peace-spoilers. Rey Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center and Satur Ocampo of Pilgrims for Peace are publicly known peace advocates. Their efforts in seeking to move the peace talks forward in addressing the roots of the armed conflict towards the aspiration of a just and enduring peace in the Philippines are well known to peace advocates throughout the country and internationally.

Naming Casambre and Ocampo as central figures in the AFP’s poorly concocted conspiracy theory makes abundantly clear that Duterte’s state forces are prone to fascist machinations and red-tagging which undermine democracy and impinge upon democratic freedoms.

Many peace advocates—both in the Philippines and around the world—will insist that part of peace building is allowing and even encouraging the participation of dissenting and marginalized voices in government and society. In contrast, the blatantly oppressive character of the military was revealed as they repeatedly warned of infiltration by communists in government. Peace advocates applaud the participation of progressive, pro-poor leaders in government, especially as they have been seen to deliver reforms and services that benefit the poor and toiling majority.

The AFP made evident that they wish to blame a faltering economy on the opposition. They even went as far as to accuse the opposition of manipulating the price of rice. This is ridiculous. Meanwhile, they also exposed the lie of their so-called “Whole of Nation” approach where the military seeks to control and manipulate access to basic and social services for their anti-insurgency campaign, while feigning that they are apolitical.

We want peace for the Philippines. The way to move in this direction is to resume GRP-NDFP peace talks intended to address the roots of the armed conflict. The negotiating parties had hammered out meaningful agreements, ready for signature, on much needed Socio-Economic Reforms. These very peace spoilers in the AFP and the security cluster are the ones standing in the way of democracy and peace building.

The public would be wise not to give an iota of credence to the AFP’s conspiracy tales. An open opposition exists. It would be much worse for democracy in the Philippines if it didn’t. And as Duterte’s military henchmen grasp at straws to attempt to tie together these perceived strands of opposition and falsely render them into a tidy conspiracy, they only lay bare their penchant for military rule.

On some level, President Duterte appears to have coalesced with their thinking. We must urge him that it is not too late to recalibrate toward peace talks and addressing historic injustices and root causes of armed conflict in our beloved homeland. People like Rey Casambre of the Philippine Peace Center and Satur Ocampo of Pilgrims for Peace would welcome such developments.

As President Duterte continues to follow the AFP’s war-mongering and martial law, opposition will continue to grow in response to increased oppression and militarization. Not only should we not believe this conspiracy they are peddling, we must encourage the Duterte administration that peace-building and resuming GRP-NDFP peace talks is the better option altogether. #

Reference: 
Bishop Rex RB Reyes, Jr., D.D.
Convenor, Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (Ecuvoice)

Court dismisses double murder charges vs Makabayan 4

The Palayan Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed the double murder case against National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza and her fellow former Makabayan bloc representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Rafael Mariano.

In a decision dated August 8, Palayan City RTC Acting Presiding Judge Trese D. Wenceslao ordered the dismissal of the cases and quashed the warrants of arrest against the four.

“[C]onsidering that the evidence on hand absolutely fails to support a finding of probable cause against the accused-movants, the Motion for Reconsidetion (of the Order dated July 11, 2018 with Prayer to Quash Warrants of Arrests) is hereby GRANTED,” Judge Wenceslao ordered.

“Consequently, the Warrants of Arrest issued on July 11, 2018 under Criminal Case Nos. 1879-P and 1880-P against Saturnino C. Ocampo, Liza L. Maza, Teodoro A. Casiño and Rafael V. Mariano are QUASHED. The instant cases are DISMISSED as to the said accused-movenats,” he added.

Wenceslao, however, ordered that the arrest warrants against more than a dozen others who did not ask the court for reconsideration stand.

Dispositive portion of Judge Wenceslao’s decision. (Photo by Renato Reyes Jr.)

The four opposition leaders were ordered arrested by Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla last July 11 after reversing her 2008 decision that the case does not meet her standards in finding probable cause.

Atty. Rachel Pastores, counsel for the four accused, said the case is pure harassment as the complaint was not even subscribed before a public prosecutor before it was filed.

“The complainants swore before the Philippine National Police and not to a public prosecutor. It was irregular,” Pastores said.

A Cleotilde Peralta and an Isabelita Bayudang alleged Ocampo, Maza, Mariano, Casiño and 18 other activists 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, however, 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 was already existing in 1998 when it was in fact created only in 2000.

The two complainants were ordered to pay damages to Ocampo, but have yet to abide by the court decision.

The two complainants have not appeared in court since then.

Peralta and Bayudang’s petition to have Bayan Muna disqualified using the same allegations was also dismissed by the Commission on Elections in 2008. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Groups gather to defend Makabayan 4

Various groups gathered last Saturday, August 11, to defend the four former Makabayan Representatives, Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teddy Casiño and Rafael Mariano.

Lawyers explained that the double murder case used as basis for the issuance of warrants against the four were baseless, as proven by two earlier decisions by a trial court and the Commission on Elections.

Family members of the accused also spoke against what they call the political persecution of political dissenters by the Rodrigo Duterte government. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

Hinggil sa persekusyon ng Makabayan 4

“Nagaganap ang political persecution kapag iyong mga nasa kapangyarihan tulad ni Duterte at mga kasapakat niya ay gustong patigilin at supilin ang mga nagsasabi ng katotohanan.”–Prof. Jose Maria Sison, International League of Peoples’ Struggles chairperson.

 

Groups launch #DefendSecLiza campaign

Various groups launched a campaign to defend National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza in a press conference in Quezon City last Monday, August 6.

Saying they are composed of groups outside the Makabayan bloc, they said they want to show that support for Maza is wide and committed in defending the embattled Cabinet secretary from political persecution.

Maza, along with former Makabayan representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Rafael Mariano were issued warrants of arrest by a Palayan City Regional Trial Court for alleged murders committed nearly two decades ago.

The accused and their supporters, however, claim that the cases were trumped up, as proven by earlier decisions by the QC RTC and the Commission on Elections. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

Itanong mo kay Prof: Political persecution sa mga lider-aktibista

Sa episode na ito ng Itanong mo kay Prof, ipinaliwanag ang ibig sabihin ng political persecution at bakit target nito ang mga progresibong lider tulad nila Liza Maza, Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano at Teddy Casiño.

Lawyers, groups slam arrest warrants vs Satur Ocampo, others

Groups and lawyers condemned the issuance of warrants of arrests against four well-known activists at a press conference in Quezon City Friday.

They explained that the resurrected case against Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano, Liza Maza and Teddy Casiño were based on lies as proven in another court and the Commission on Elections and that they blame political persecution as the real reason behind the threat against the four.

Political persecution behind arrest orders, groups say

Political persecution by militarists in the Rodrigo Duterte government and new House of Representatives Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may be behind the issuance of arrest warrants against a Cabinet secretary and three opposition leaders by a Palayan City Regional Trial Court (RTC) last July 11, various groups said.

In a press conference in Quezon City Friday afternoon, groups including the Makabayan bloc of progressive parties, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and others said the arrest orders against National Anti-Poverty Commission chairperson Liza Maza, and former Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Rafael Mariano are pure harassment by both militarists and a resurrected Arroyo.

In a statement, Maza said the arrest order is part of a “continuing political persecution against her by the rightists and militarists who wield substantial influence within the Duterte government.”

“Almost from the beginning, the rightists and militarists have tried to make it difficult on us – myself and other progressives who have joined the Duterte government – opposing or obstructing the reforms that we pushed for and manoeuvring to have us removed, one by one,” Maza added.

Palayan City RTC Branch 40 Judge Evelyn Ancheta Turla issued arrest orders against the four last July 11 stemming from a 2006 double murder charge.

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.

Casiño said the recycling of such trumped-up charges is part of “a desperate and reckless witch hunt against opposition.”

“This is an attempt to curtail my liberty. And the fact that it is happening under a Duterte-Marcos (family)-Arroyo alliance makes it more frightening,” Casino said.

In his statement, Mariano said he vehemently denies the accusations, saying they are “baseless, malicious and fabricated.”

 ‘It was irregular’

Atty. Rachel Pastores, counsel for the four accused, said the case is pure harassment as the complaint was not even subscribed before a public prosecutor before it was filed.

“The complainants swore before the Philippine National Police and not to a public prosecutor. It was irregular,” Pastores said.

A Cleotilde Peralta and an Isabelita Bayudang alleged Ocampo, Maza, Mariano, Casiño and 18 other activists 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, however, 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 was already existing 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 was also dismissed by the Commission on Elections in 2008.

Reconsideration, remedies

Pastores said that Turla’s decision is wrong, more so that no additional information has been introduced to the case.

“We will avail of all legal remedies. We will file a motion for reconsideration,” Pastores said.

Speaking for the Makabayan bloc, ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio warned of darker times ahead.

“This is a classic GMA [Arroyo] move when she was in power. And it is being revived now that she is back in power. Darker times are indeed ahead,” Tinio said.

Former BM Representative Neri Colmenares for his part called on “the professional witnesses” to not allow themselves to be used by the military.

“Time will come you will be dropped by the military and your handlers, like what happened when the court decided that you pay damages to Satur Ocampo and others,” Colmenares said.

Colmenares also called on Duterte to order the dismissal of the case through the Department of Justice.

Panawagan kay Presidente, pwede bang maghunus-dili ka muna?” Colmenares said. (I call on the President, can you please calm down for a moment?) # (Raymund B. Villanueva)