Victims of Military abductions surfaced due to Writ of Amparo
Full text of the writ of Amparo can be found here

Printed copies available, email rbahaguejr [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Letter from Cong. Satur Ocampo

7 April 2007


Today is my 68th birthday. I wish to do two things on this day: to share with you the peace pervading my mind and the joy filling up my heart, and to thank you for standing by me and calling for my immediate release during the 18 days I was detained by the national
police, from March 16 to April 3.

The Supreme Court has ordered my release on bail, pending its ruling on my petition seeking to annul a regional trial court (RTC) order last March 6 finding probable cause and issuing a warrant of arrest on the charge of "multiple murder" that allegedly took place 22 years ago in Leyte.

That I was ordered freed on bail, despite the offense charged being nonbailable, indicates that government has a weak case against me. The Supreme Court also ignored the government's adamant objection to my release allegedly because I would escape. Obviously the Court trusts my declaration that I will squarely face the government's malicious charge and fight to clear my name before the courts of justice.

Moreover, in deciding to set me free provisionally, the Supreme Court put more weight on what Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno called "the compelling interest of fundamental fairness" and my interest to be able to campaign for my party (Bayan Muna) in the party-list election on May 14, 2007, as against the state's interest to keep me in jail during the trial of the case.

During the March 30 oral arguments on my petition, the Supreme Court justices were apparently convinced that the multiple-murder charge was fabricated (as my chief legal counsel, Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, ably argued); and that it was based on the perjured statements of "witnesses" who have long been under the control of state security forces.

The justices observed in open court that the charge is "defective" in form (it cannot be a case of "multiple murder"), and weak in substance (there was no proof of "premeditation", "use of superior force", and "treachery" as alleged). Solicitor-General Agnes Devanadera, who as counsel for the government came under intense and sharp questioning by the justices, conceded as much and offered to have the case reinvestigated.

At the end of the oral arguments, Chief Justice Puno pointed to four probable courses of action from which the RTC judge may choose to adopt one, if he reinvestigates the charge. These are:

  • Order a change in the character of the offense ("homicide" instead of "murder");

  • Order the multiple-murder charge withdrawn and instead cause the filing of 13 separate charges of murder;

  • Change, or reverse, the finding of probable cause, in view of the violations of due process and the statutory rights of the petitioner; and

  • Rule that the common crimes of murder charged are absorbed in the rebellion case field last year by the government against me and my colleagues in the House of Representatives, dubbed as the "Batasan 6".That case is now pending before the Supreme Court on another petition for certiorari and prohibition. It was filed on the heels of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's proclamation of a state of national emergency, an act that the Supreme Court subsequently ruled had violated the Constitution.

The Supreme Court gave my legal counsel and the Solicitor General 10 days from March 30 to submit their written memoranda to supplement the oral arguments on the merits of my petition. Pending the ruling of the court, no further action should be initiated in the lower court.

Yet, on the behest of Secretary of Justice Raul Gonzalez – who
criticized the Supreme Court for allegedly giving me "very special
treatment" – the provincial prosecutor in Leyte filed a motion at the RTC on Monday, April 2, to admit 15 amended charges of murder, in lieu of the multiple-murder charge.

This shows patent bad faith on the part of the government. The
intention is to preempt, thus undermine, the Supreme Court's impending ruling on my petition. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita betrayed the government's ill will by publicly suggesting that RTC Judge Ephrem Abando – who as a respondent in my petition is duty bound to desist from further acting on the case --- to issue a new warrant of arrest for me.

Ermita was quoted by the leading national daily, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, as saying: "So much will depend on the appreciation by Judge Abando of Leyte. I don't want to preempt him but what I can say is that a murder is a murder is a murder whether it's one, 10 or 15." (PDI, April 5, 2007)

Dear friends, my fight for the truth, and for justice and freedom,
which you have taken up as your own fight, is far from over. Even as we rejoice over this initial victory, we must brace ourselves for a tougher fight ahead, fully aware of the government's underhandedness.

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will soon decide in my favor. Such a
ruling can thereafter be invoked to deter the Macapagal-Arroyo
government from further disregarding and violating due process and
civil and political rights, not only in my case but in the case of
thousands of other Filipinos less politically and socially well
situated than I am.

Yours in struggle, yours in victory,

Bayan Muna (People First Party)

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