BY JHONG DELA CRUZ
Defense lawyers of the so-called ‘Batasan 6’ militant lawmakers today asked a Makati regional trial court to suspend the hearing of rebellion charges against the six, and to first pursue probable cause for the charges.
The Batasan 6 lawyers filed the two motions to suspend the hearing and to pursue probable cause before the sala of Judge Elmo Alameda of the Makati regional trial court Branch 150. The lawyers cited a status-quo order handed by the Supreme Court in June. Today’s court-ordered clarificatory hearing was supposed to resolve 13 pending motions on the consolidated rebellion charges against the legislators and six other legal personalities.
The Batasan 6 – Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño and Joel Virador, Anakpawis Reps. Rafael Mariano and Crispin Beltran and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza – have been charged with rebellion by the DOJ after the issuance of Proclamation 1017 on Feb. 24. Beltran was first to be charged after his arrest on Feb. 25, while the five others had to seek refuge at the House of Representatives amidst threats of arrest by government forces.
The six have been charged with rebellion along with former Senator Gregorio Honasan and 40 others. Earlier, the amended information filed by the DOJ to support the rebellion charges was ruled out by Makati RTC Branch 137 Judge Jenny Aldecoa-Delorino.
The lawmakers argued that a previous judge who handled the rebellion charges has violated the order of the High Tribunal. On June 22, MRTC Branch 57 Judge Renato Quilala granted the motion of the Department of Justice which sought the consolidation of the Batasan 5 case with that of Beltran and 1st Lt. Lawrence San Juan.
The complaint is now based on the original information filed against Beltran and San Juan citing a supposed tactical alliance between communist guerillas and disgruntled military soldiers in the supposed Feb. 24 failed coup d’ etat.
The lawyers of the six lawmakers has asked the court to reconsider an earlier order of MRTC Branch 146 Judge Encarnacion Moya, the second judge to handle Beltran’s case, to pursue probable cause in the rebellion charges against him and further confinement of the 67-year old solon.
Human rights and defense lawyer Romeo Capulong said the court is expected to issue a decision on the motion in 10 days. He expressed confidence the court would grant their motions which he said were based on strong grounds.
Capulong said that if the motion to find probable cause was granted, Beltran would be automatically allowed to attend sessions at the House of Representatives to do his legislative duties.
Beltran wore red barong during the hearing to signify protest against his detention.
Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo said the Inter-Parliamentary Union had transmitted to the government a petition to release Beltran and join his colleagues in the Congress.
Meanwhile, Beltran lambasted President Arroyo’s 10-week deadline to the police and the military to solve 10 cases of political killings.
Ocampo doubted the government could present solved cases of political killings. “We will wait for it,” he said, reiterating that Arroyo should order the military and police to not only investigate the violations but stop the rash of killings that already claimed the lives of 717 civilians, including 244 activists and 47 members of the media. Bulatlat