Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 6      March 13, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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DOJ Resorting to Dirty Tactics - Batasan 5



Posted 6:30 p.m. March 13, 2006

AGAINST DIRTY TACTICS: Lawyer Romeo Capulong and the “Batasan 5” expose DOJ “dirty tactics” in a press conference at the House of Representatives


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’ non-appearance.

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 congressmen.

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.

COUNTER-EVIDENCE: 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




© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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