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Charges vs ‘Talaingod 18’ will not survive scrutiny, lawyer says

MANILA, Philippines — The legal counsel of Bayan Muna president Satur Ocampo is confident that the kidnapping and human trafficking charges filed against him and 17 others will not prosper. 

In a statement Monday, lawyer Rachel Pastores called the charges against her client “ludicrous” and “baseless.”

“The charges against Ka Satur are so ludicrous, there is no way these will survive reasonable judicial or public scrutiny,” Pastores said.

She added: “Over the past 40 years, 10 other persecution cases against Ka Satur have been dismissed and junked in court. We are confident he can also shrug off the present criminal charges, baseless as they are.”

Ocampo, Rep. France Castro (ACT-Teachers party-list) and 16 others were held last Wednesday by police in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte and charged for allegedly transporting 14 Lumad students without documents to indicate their parents’ consent.

They were released from jail on Saturday after posting bail.

Ocampo’s lawyer maintained that her client and his companions who joined the National Solidarity Mission were just trying to help Lumad students.

“[They] had no intention to abuse, kidnap, or, more thoughtlessly, traffic the children. They had, in fact, responded to the ‘cry of the needy,’ the call of the Salugpongan schools for rescue in the midst of forcible closure and embargo by the army and allied paramilitary,” Pastores said.

She added it was the cops who put the lives of Lumad students at risk.

‘Kidnapping’ charge in Sagay case

“By apprehending the convoy of the children, their teachers and aiders, by also detaining and traumatizing the children, it was the police who endangered the life, safety and normal development of the children,” Pastores said.

A similar kidnapping charge has been filed against lawyer Katherine Panguban of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, for taking custody of a minor who is a witness in the killing of the “Sagay 9” in Sagay, Negros Occidental on October 20.

“Attorney Panguban properly represented Lester’s mother. There is absolutely no truth to allegations of Pedaso and the police that mother and son are being held against their will by Attorney Panguban, NUPL and Karapatan,” rights group Karapatan has said.

NUPL, in a separate statement, said the charges were “malicious, contrived and have no legal and factual basis to stand on.” It said that the child’s mother had engaged them as lawyers “after Mr. Pedaso, cavalierly and unilaterally, without consulting Lester’s mother, turned over the child to them.”

Article source: https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/12/03/1873869/charges-vs-talaingod-18-will-not-survive-scrutiny-lawyer-says

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