Duterte backs kidnapping charge vs. Satur Ocampo, others


By Arjay L. Balinbin

PHILIPPINE National Police (PNP) Chief Director-General Oscar D. Albayalde on Monday said a kidnapping case will be refiled against former Bayan Muna representative Satur C. Ocampo and his companions over the transport of minors in Talaingod town, Davao del Norte, on Nov. 28.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, for his part, said he will support the police and the military in their pursuit of Mr. Ocampo in the courts.

In a news conference on Monday, Dec. 3, Mr. Albayalde said: “A kidnapping case was filed against them pero hindi tinanggap ng piskalya, pero hindi dinismiss.” (The fiscal did not accept the case, but they did not dismiss it either.)

He added: “I just talked with the Regional Director this morning and they will be refiling the case because there are five parents who signed their affidavits and are planning to file a case of kidnapping laban dito kina (against) Satur Ocampo.”

Mr. Ocampo and 17 of his companions, including ACT Teachers Rep. France L. Castro, were charged last Friday, Nov. 30, with violation of Republic Act (RA) 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act in connection with the transport of at least 14 minors in Talaingod.

Also on Monday, Malacañang distanced itself from Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr.’s tweet regarding the arrest of Mr. Ocampo.

“As a response to queries arising out of the tweets of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. who slammed the arrest of former legislator Satur Ocampo, we wish to state that his personal position on the matter does not reflect the official view of the Administration on the issue,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement.

In a Twitter post last Saturday, Dec. 1, Mr. Locsin said: “Human trafficking? Bullshit. I won’t even bother to get the other side. I know Satur. We protected him in our Congress against warrants of arrest.”

“Sec. Locsin and Mr. Ocampo served as simultaneous members of the House of Representatives for the 1st District of Makati and Bayan Muna Party-list, respectively, for several years. We therefore consider the remarks of Sec. Locsin as personal sentiments supportive of a friend, being former colleagues with Mr. Ocampo in Congress,” Mr. Panelo said.

Mr. Panelo also said “the request of Mr. Ocampo and his group to have a preliminary investigation to rebut the allegations, and to proffer evidence in support of their defense was granted by Prosecutor’s Office in Tagum City.”

“Presently, they are enjoying their liberty on account of the bail posted by them in court. Those facts alone show they are being accorded due process. Other legal remedies to which they are entitled are available to them. Let the law take its course. We thus reiterate our advice to all parties to trust the process without hasty and premature judgements. Let the legal mechanism work as it should. That is what the Rule of Law is all about. The law hears before it convicts, and it hears before it acquits as well,” he added.

For her part, House Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo called for the “speedy resolution” of the charges against Mr. Ocampo, Ms. Castro, and 16 others.

“I understand that they have been given 10 days to file their counter affidavits in order to refute the charges against them, and I would urge a speedy resolution of the matter within the framework of our judicial system,” the Speaker said in a statement.

Mr. Duterte for his part said, “I support the police and the military….You know, an ordinary person, lalo na kung senador (especially a senator), you must be aware you cannot remove children from one community to another without the consent of the parents….”

He added: “Iyan ang mahirap sa komunista, ginagamit nila ang lumad, kaya karamihan ngayon na namamatay, lumad.” (That’s the trouble with the communists, they use the lumad, so many of those who die are lumad.) “(Seventy-five) 75 of the armed soldiers of the NPA are lumad. Kawawa eh (What a pity)….” — with Charmaine A. Tadalan and Vince Angelo C. Ferreras

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