Satur, 3 others cleared of kidnap-slay charges


By MAGTANGGOL VILAR

GUIMBA, Nueva Ecija – “For lack of probable cause,” the court here has dismissed the other day the charges of kidnapping with murder filed by government prosecutors against Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teodoro Casiño, and Rafael Mariano, party-list representatives of Bayan Muna, Liza Maza, and Bayan, respectively.

They were charged with kidnapping with murder and two counts of murder for the alleged liquidation of three rebel returnees suspected as deep penetration agents by the leftist movement. The killing reportedly took place in 2001, 2003, and 2004.

In a 12-page order issued by Guimba Regional Trial Court Judge Napoleon R. Sta. Romana, the four party-list representatives were cleared of the charges for the twin charges filed against them by a panel of prosecutors.

The panel of prosecutors was composed of now retired Provincial Prosecutors Antonio Ll. Lapuz Jr., Edison Rafanan, and Eddie Gutierrez.

With the retirement of Lapuz, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Floro F. Florendo took over as lead member.

However, their 14 co-accused were not as lucky as the court caused the issuance of warrants for their arrest. They are Eugenia Magpantay of 189 A. Bonifacio Ave., Tañong, Marikina City; Vicente Cayetano of Poblacion, Norzagaray, Bulacan; Delfin Pimentel of Barangay Ditumabo, Baler, Aurora; Emeterio Antalan of Estiponia, Pura, Tarlac, all allegedly high-ranking officials of the Central Luzon Regional Committee and Nueva Ecija Provincial Committee of the CPP, NPA, NDF.

Lawyer Romeo T. Capulong, lead counsel of the four party-list representatives, hailed the decision as “the triumph of decent parliamentarians who champion the cause of the defenseless masses.” He said that to hold the party-list representatives during the pendency of the cases, considering that they are non-bailable cases, would deprive their constituents of the services of their duly elected representatives.

Sta. Romana noted “substantial infirmities” in the information filed by the prosecutors. The alleged conspiracy among the accused was not established by separate and independent evidence, Sta. Romana said.(MB)

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