DOJ Resorting to Dirty Tactics - Batasan 5
BY AUBREY MAKILAN
6:30 p.m. March 13, 2006
TACTICS: Lawyer Romeo Capulong and the “Batasan 5” expose DOJ
“dirty tactics” in a press conference at the House of
PHOTO BY AUBREY
Five legislators accused of
rebellion said March 13 that the Department of Justice was
resorting to dirty tactics after the latter changed, without
prior notification, the schedule and venue of their preliminary
investigation on rebellion charges.
Chief state prosecutor Jovencito
Zuño and other government lawyers arrived at the House of
Representatives at 10 a.m. supposedly to hand over the complaint
documents to the respondents.
But Romeo Capulong, one of the 15
counsels for Bayan Muna Partylist Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro
Casiño, and Joel Virador; Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party; and
Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis Partylist, said that the investigation of
the DOJ was “invalid” because they were informed less than half an hour
before the start of the proceedings. Two of their counsels however
appeared before the state prosecutors to explain their clients’
Casiño said the hearing by the DOJ
was done "in bad faith" to prevent them from appearing. The lawmakers
had earlier committed to attending a mass at the House lobby at 10 a.m.
The mass, celebrated by Bishop Julio Xavier Labayen and five other
catholic priests, was attended by the lawmakers’ supporters including
former vice president Teofisto Guingona, Susan Roces, and fellow
|Capulong said that based on
the subpoena sent to them last March 9, the hearing was set at
the DOJ at 2 p.m. They were initially informed of the change in
venue from the DOJ to the House of Representatives then the time
from 200 p.m. to 10 a.m less than an hour before the schedule.
Capulong said they will no
longer question the abrupt changes and instead will study their
response to the complaint within 15 days.
Since none of the respondents
appeared in the hearing, State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco
ordered the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) to
furnish each respondent’s office with a copy of the complaint.
Velasco added that if the
respondents and their counsels fail to answer the complaint, the
case would be resolved based on the evidence they gathered.
However, Capulong said, the
government has no strong evidence against his clients,
particularly against Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran.
Beltran was arrested Feb. 25 but a lower court ordered his
release last March 13 based on their petition for parliamentary
immunity in the sedition case filed against him. The Philippine
National Police however refused to honor the decision unless the
Makati Regional Trial Court will as well order his release from
the rebellion charge filed against him.
Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador shows proof of attendance at the
Feb. 20 congressional hearing as counter-evidence against the
accusation that he and the other progressive party-list
congressmen were in a meeting with Magdalo leader 1Lt. Lawrence
San Juan on the said date
Capulong said that only three of the
46 documents filed as evidences against Beltran are relevant.
Countering an affidavit by a certain
Rowel Escala who claimed to have seen the lawmakers meeting with 1Lt.
Lawrence San Juan Feb. 20, Virador showed a copy of the attendance sheet
for that day’s committee hearing at the House. Bulatlat
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