Bayan Muna (People First) general counsel and third nominee Neri Javier Colmenares revealed that they will file criminal cases of perjury against the witnesses who “falsely testified” against Rep. Satur Ocampo in Leyte. They will also file civil cases against these witnesses for “damaging and maligning” Ocampo and Bayan Muna.
BY KAREN PAPELLERO AND JOHANN HEIN B. ARPON
Bayan Muna (People First) general counsel and third nominee Neri Javier Colmenares has revealed that they will file criminal cases of perjury against the witnesses who “falsely testified”against Rep. Satur Ocampo in Leyte. Ocampo was accused by the witnesses of personally supervising the alleged executions of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in Inopacan, Leyte in 1984 even as he is known to have been in detention at the time. They will also file civil cases against these witnesses for “damaging and maligning” Ocampo and Bayan Muna.
Administrative cases will also be filed against government officials for engaging in partisan activities and violations of the Omnibus Election Code – especially against Interior and Local Government Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane, AFP chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, and Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.
Dateline: Hilongos, Leyte (March 19)
Colmenares was in the thick of efforts to block Ocampo’s transfer to Hilongos, Leyte –where the multiple murder charges against him are filed – last March 19.
He and Bayan Muna-Central Visayas secretary-general Arman Perez left for Hilongos late last Sunday to file a motion before the Hilongos Regional Trial Court.
They arrived there 1:30 a.m. of Monday and within a few hours, the news of Ocampo being harassed by the police and being forced to ride a private plane bound for Leyte, was breaking out in Manila.
At 7:30 a.m., when Colmenares and party had arrived at the courthouse, there were at least 15 fully armed policemen outside the building. With the police were a number of military men in plain clothes, occupying vans. In the plaza near the courthouse, there were also military trucks from the 8th Infantry Division, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), along with several fully-armed AFP soldiers dispersed in every corner.
About 50 residents belonging to the Kilusan Kontra Komunista (KKK or Anti-Communist Movement) also staged a rally. Chants and messages against Ocampo and Bayan Muna were repeatedly heard.
A car with loudspeakers was also driving around the relatively small town, announcing messages branding Rep. Ocampo as “mamamatay-tao” (murderer) and “demonyo” (demon).
Large banners and streamers were hung in posts around the plaza and courthouse with diatribes like “Satur Ocampo, killer ng Leyte!” (Satur Ocampo, killer of Leyte!), “Bulukin sa bilangguan!” (Let him rot in jail!) and “Ocampo, demonyo, komunista!” (Ocampo, demon, communist!).
Meanwhile, at the Daniel Z. Romualdez Airport in Tacloban City where the plane carrying Ocampo was supposed to land, a different kind of surprise was waiting for him.
Posted all over the place were placards with slogans like Hustisya sa mga pinatay ng CPP-NPA-NDF!” (Justice for all victims killed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front), Maligayang pagdating kriminal!” (Welcome, criminal), and “Panagutin utak ng Leyte mass grave!” (Punish the brains behind the Leyte mass graves). The supposed signatories were Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights), the League of Filipino Students (LFS), and Samahan Han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (Sagupa-SB), an Eastern Visayas-based affiliate of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP or Philippine Peasant Movement).
Karapatan in its various statements has held the AFP and Malacañang accountable for the intensification of human rights violations since 2001 – when President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo assumed power following the EDSA II uprising. The LFS and Sagupa-SB, meanwhile, are organizations allied with Bayan Muna.
Members of Karapatan, the LFS, and Sagupa-SB in Tacloban City took down the placards, provoking a confrontation with members of the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (ANAD) who claimed ownership of the posted materials.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance)-Eastern Visayas spokesperson Pong Acbo assailed members of ANAD, led by Jun Alcover, for what he described as their “attempt to mislead” the public. “Bayan knows that Congressman Ocampo has nothing to do with the alleged mass grave and that it is nothing but a futile attempt of the Arroyo regime and her minions to discredit (him) and Bayan Muna,” Acbo said.
Lou Molon, Eastern Visayas regional coordinator of Bayan Muna, meanwhile condemned what he described as the “treachery” of ANAD. “It just shows the real character of ANAD and the military (and their inclination) to maliciously point to others (to escape) accountability (for) their misdeeds,” Molon said.
Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, the Eastern Visayas chapter of Karapatan, made the same observation in a statement. “What they did is one proof that ANAD and the military are but a bunch of liars who thrive on deception,” Katungod-SB stated.
Perez was no less damning in his reading of what had transpired.
“The sights and sounds in Leyte (on March 19) were clear manifestations that those behind the case of Representative Ocampo (already had) foreknowledge that he will be transferred that day, probably even before Ka Satur was arrested,” said the Bayan Muna-Central Visayas secretary-general. “They were well-planned and prepared to systematically humiliate and malign Rep. Ocampo and Bayan Muna with its ‘grand show’ and it is not difficult even to an observer to know from whom these efforts are coming from.”
Even Colmenares had expressed concern over their safety and security due to the heavy military presence in the town.
Even before the judge approved the motion to stop the transfer of the Bayan Muna representative, he informed Colmenares that he was not insisting that Satur Ocampo, be brought to Hilongos that day, March 19, 2007.
At 9:30 a.m, Judge Ephrem Abando of Branch 18 of the Hilongos RTC verbally consented to the motion to stop the transfer of Rep. Ocampo. According to Colmenares, the judge called up Philippine National Police (PNP) officials who were in custody of Ocampo and informed them of his decision. But the police refused saying that they will still push through with the transfer unless they got hold of the written decision before 11:30 a.m.
Colmenares and members of the media were present as the judge informed the PNP in Manila of his approval of the motion.
By 11:45 a.m., the court released the written order and a copy was sent to the office of the PNP Regional Commander in Region VIII, Col. Valencia, through PO2 Castillion of PNP-Hilongos and PO2 Cañedo of PNP-Region VIII.
“According to the law, when an official representative receives an order, it is tantamount that the entire organization/institution has received the order,” Colmenares explained. “In this case, the PNP in Region VIII has received the order, therefore, it is not an excuse for the police in Manila to play innocent of the order. Yet, they still flew Rep. Ocampo after that.”
“The forcible transfer of Representative Ocampo is an act of cruelty, at the least,” Colmenares added. They wasted public funds in the mid-air abortion of the transport and treated a public official shabbily and unjustly. That alone is cruel and inhuman.”
Policy vs. progressive party-list groups?
Colmenares also said that the recent events are manifestations of what he described as an anti-party-list policy being implemented by “militarist sections” of the national government against which, he said, Arroyo has not lifted a finger to intervene.
“Consequently, the political persecution of Bayan Muna and its allied groups is just to ensure that the critics in Congress will be lessened as well as the number of those who will sign the third impeachment complaint during the 14th Congress,” Colmenares added.
He also said that the actions of the government are plainly shifting the attention of the public away from the political killings happening under the Arroyo administration, towards the case against Satur.
“Lastly, the actions against Bayan Muna may have garnered sympathy, but this is not the kind of campaign we seek, even if we benefit from it, electorally. We want to play fair and square in our campaigns and not subject our leaders to persecution and suffering, just to gain publicity. We would like to be elected because the Filipinos believe in our platforms and programs for the poor and the marginalized,” he concluded.(Bulatlat.com)