Son Condemns Arrest of Ka Satur

Detained lawmaker Satur Ocampo’s son, Anto, weeps at a solidarity gathering for his father at the Club Filipino in Ortigas. “I am outraged,” the young Ocampo said of his father’s third arrest since martial law.

Posted 3:35 p.m., March 19, 2007

In a solidarity gathering for detained Bayan Muna lawmaker Satur Ocampo at the Club Filipino in Ortigas, San Juan, his 31-year old son, Antonio, broke down in tears while thanking supporters of his father.

The Bayan Muna solon was arrested by the police based on a warrant issued by Branch 18 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Hilongos, Leyte for allegedly ordering the mass murder of at least 15 individuals who were alleged by the military as victims of a supposed purge by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in the mid-1980s.

He surfaced and was arrested at around 3:30 p.m. on March 16 at the Supreme Court after sidestepping for 10 days since March 6 when the warrant for his arrest was issued. Ocampo is charged with 12 counts of multiple-murder.

Ang gusto lang naman namin ay maglingkod sa bayan,” (All we want to do is to serve our countrymen.) the young Ocampo, who is himself working for a non-government organization, told the crowd as he wiped his tears.

“I am outraged. This is the third time they (the government agents) are doing this to my father, to us,” he told reporters after the program.

Third time

Antonio or Anto was just a one-year old boy on January 14, 1976 when his father, one of the most respected journalists of his time, was illegally arrested and tortured by military intelligence operatives.

For nine long years, the young Anto’s image of his father was a person behind bars and a loving tatay (father) taken away from him. “As far as I can recall bumibisita ako sa kulungan. Ganun talaga ang buhay namin nuon,” (I visited my father in prison. That was our normal life then) Anto said with a sheepish smile during an interview with Bulatlat inside the General Assignments Section of the Western Police District (WPD) along the United Nations Avenue in Manila where his father was detained on March 16 until he was whisked away by Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) agents this morning.

The older Ocampo was charged with rebellion and subversion during martial law but was not found guilty even after seven years of trial under Special Military Commission No. 1.

Ka Satur escaped from military custody May 5, 1985 and went underground only to surface as chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the local peace negotiations with the post-dictator administration of Corazon Aquino. He again went underground when the peace talks collapsed after the massacre of farmers in Mendiola on Jan. 22, 1987.

Ocampo was again arrested on July 27, 1989 and placed under military detention for the next three years. He was subjected to trial for murder, kidnapping and illegal possession of firearms but was freed on recognizance without being found guilty of the said charges. He was released on Sept. 1, 1992.

Shades of martial law

It has been thirty years since his father’s first arrest but Anto thinks that there are parallels to the situation now to the days of martial law. Anto said “these are shades of martial law, nangyari na ito dati.”(This happened before.)

Kung kilala nila ang tatay ko, he’s one of the most peaceful people I know,” (If they knew my father) Anto said of his father.

“I find it preposterous. He’s not capable of doing that,” he added, referring to the military’s charge that his father ordered the killing of at least 15 individuals sometime in 1984.

“Ang habol lang nya ay to help people and promote peace,” (His only concern is to help people and promote peace) the young Ocampo said.(

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