Court junks DOJ request to rearrest Satur Ocampo

Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 finds no basis to overtake an earlier Supreme Court decision that gave Satur Ocampo provisional liberty

Lian Buan

Published: 5:35 PM August 19, 2019

Updated: 5:35 PM August 19, 2019

LIBERTY. Former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo (right) keeps his liberty as the Manila Regional Trial Court rejects prosecutors' request to rearrest him on pending murder charges. File photo by Jire Carreon/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 32 denied prosecutors' request to rearrest former Bayan Muna representative Satur Ocampo on pending murder charges, over which he was already granted bail by the Supreme Court (SC).

"The court finds no reason to issue a recommitment order against Ocampo," said Judge Thelma Bunyi Medina.

Manila RTC Branch 32 is handling murder charges against Ocampo, other activists, and National Democratic Front consultants over a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte, discovered by the military in 2006. The military is alleging that the supposed skeletal remains are those of victims of the so-called purge of communists.

In April 2007, the SC granted Ocampo provisional liberty after he posted bail of P100,000.

Grounds for the request

Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors filed on June 13 a motion of issuance of recommitment order against Ocampo, for supposed "proclivity to abuse the provisional liberty."

The prosecution cited the November 2018 incident in Talaingod, Davao del Norte, where police accused Ocampo and ACT Teachers Representative France Castro of kidnapping 14 minors. 

Ocampo and Castro had explained that the minors were students in Lumad schools who they evacuated due to alleged harassment by state forces.

But charges of human trafficking and child abuse were filed against Ocampo, pending before Tagum City RTC Branch 2 in Davao del Norte. Ocampo was released on bail and is undergoing pre-trial for this case.

"Instead of making good use of his provisional liberty, accused Ocampo chose to betray the trust of the authority which granted him his temporary freedom by involving himself in another unlawful activity," said the prosecutors.

No conditions

Medina simply cited the SC's granting of provisional liberty to Ocampo which states that the bail remains effective "until the termination of the proceedings" before the Manila RTC.

"Plainly, the grant of bail to Ocampo is not subject to any other condition, except that its effectivity is until the termination of the proceedings of this case," said the judge.

Ocampo called the prosecutors' motion "perverse, presumptuous, and baseless."

"It is a chilling manifestation that their office is again being used and prostituted for political ends," he said.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government is pushing for the restoration of the anti-subversion law which would make it illegal to be a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The DOJ is also seeking to tag CPP founding chairman Jose Maria Sison and 7 others as terrorists. – Rappler.com