Thursday, March 22, 2007

Supreme Court Orders Continued Detention of Satur Ocampo

The Supreme Court has ordered the continued detention at the Manila Police Dept. of the arrested multiple murder suspect Satur Ocampo (Congress representative of the leftist Bayan Muna party list organization) as it postponed oral arguments on his pleading for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to March 28. The multiple charges against Satur Ocampo and 52 others, including Jose Maria Sison, stemmed from the discovery of a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte last year and the testimonies made by former rebels who survived the purges. Lawyer Alan Paguia has the legal analysis for Philippine Commentary, including some interesting comments on the matter "amnesty" which Mr. Ocampo's "human rights" supporters (like the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines) in the Mass Media and the Punditocracy may wish to take note of with the chagrin and disappointment that they had coming... (via email)--
1. Why did the counsels expose Satur Ocampo to arrest before the SC could act on their petition for a TRO? This was their basic error. They knew the PNP would surely arrest Satur Ocampo because their duty to arrest in view of the judicial warrant was purely MINISTERIAL in nature.

2. Satur Ocampo's argument, to the effect that he had an "arrangement" with Sec. Puno, or some other high officials, does not hold any water. The duty of the executive officials to enforce the judicial warrant, being ministerial in nature, they had absolutely NO DISCRETION to deviate from the established procedure of promptly presenting Satur Ocampo before the Trial Court that issued the warrant. The error of the argument lies in their failure to distinguish between (a) a MINISTERIAL, from (b) a DISCRETIONARY DUTY. In effect, they were insisting that the ministerial officers exercise legal discretion which the latter do not have.

3. The proof of Satur Ocampo's error consists of: (a) the SC's refusal to issue a TRO, and (b) the defense counsel's act of going to the Trial Court AFTER Satur Ocampo's arrest. If there was no error, the SC would have most likely issued the requested TRO, in which case there would have been no need for Satur Ocampo's counsel to rush to the Trial Court.

4. Did the RTC judge act in accordance with law when he granted Satur Ocampo's urgent motion to stop the immediate transfer of the custody over his person from the Manila police to the Hilongos RTC? No. Reasons:

a) The act was done without giving the prosecution (People of the Philippines) an opportunity to be heard or to object. Therefore, the prosecution was deprived of its right to due process.

b) The physical presence of Satur Ocampo before the SC for the hearing set on Friday is not absolutely necessary under the Rules of Court. Why? First, the SC resolution which set Satur Ocampo's petition for hearing on Friday does not require his attendance. His lawyer's appearance is sufficient. Whatever arguments Satur Ocampo may raise personally can be better expressed by his lawyers. Second, the petition is NOT for habeas corpus where the petitioner's body is required to be presented in court. Thiird Satur Ocampo is already under arrest. His being in jail is a matter of due course. To give him the privilege of personally attending the hearing of his petition before the SC would constitute preferential or discriminatory treatment which is anathema to the Equal Protection Clause under the Constitution. Other prisoners who are similarly situated are not given that privilege.

c) The fact that the SC did not grant any TRO against Satur Ocampo's arrest ought to have been taken by the Trial Court as a clearance for it to exercise its jurisdiction over (a) the person of Satur Ocampo, and (b) the criminal case - in accordance with its own discretion.

5. Did Satur Ocampo invoke any amnesty in his petition? It does not seem so. The matter of the amnesty was raised in media by Joker Arroyo.

6. Amnesty is a matter of defense which must be invoked by the accused in the criminal case. Therefore, Satur Ocampo should raise the defense of amnesty before the Trial Court, not before the SC.

7. Amnesty applies to political offenses or crimes committed in furtherance of the political offense of rebellion or treason. Is the crime of murder such a political offense? No. Homicide may be. But not murder.

8. Did Satur Ocampo apply for amnesty under President Aquino's term? If he did, he is deemed to have confessed guilt for the crimes covered by the amnesty. If he did not, then he cannot invoke amnesty as a defense in the criminal case.
Related post at Philippine Commentary is The Killing Fields Come to Haunt the Killers.


manuelbuencamino said...

By Rene Saguisag
Free Ka Satur

Sen. John Osmeña’s son recently showed interest in running in May in Cebu with the opposition. Suddenly, a three-year drug incident was dredged up. Kumander Dante was freed right after Edsa 1. Unlike Ka Satur Ocampo, he has not been charged, for the high crime of running with the opposition.

What is the value of what President Cory Aquino and the Committee on the Immediate Release of Detainees did right after Edsa 1 in a revolutionary government? Uncle Jovy Salonga headed the panel, with Executive Secretary Joker P. Arroyo, Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos and me as members. May what we did then now be nullified?

We forgave crimes with a “political complexion.” The detainees were released. In the early days, we worked in the Cojuangco Building. No written records may exist of our proceedings. When the panel met in Club Filipino late in February 1986, we did not have staff, stationery, or experience. We were in the barricades one day, and the next, we were in power. We had no transition period. But, a commitment was a commitment.

Joker and I gave orders. I would not know about him but I would be flabbergasted seeing that I would be followed, as some kind of Cory Jr. Indeed, Cabinet members are a president’s alter egos, whose acts are presumed his or hers, unless reprobated.

We released all detainees with no thought that 21 years later, supposed pre-Edsa crimes with a political complexion would be exhumed. We are not a chicken-house country with no coherence, predictability and stability but what is emerging is a nation with no mature legal system, run on whim and caprice, by a puppet of martinets.

Pronouncements of the President on public occasions of importance have value. “The point is that, as contended and explained by the Solicitor General … the statements of President [Marcos] before [various local and foreign law and press groups] do not include the situation in which the petitioners [prisoners of conscience] find themselves [seeking freedom]. It is to think too much bad faith on the part of the President to maintain that where his intention in those statements invoked by petitioners was to have them released, actually he had in mind not to do so …” Thus spake the Supreme Court in Luneta v. Special Military Commission No. 1 in early January 1981. The reverse was true here.

President Cory had really meant to put herself where her mouth was during the long struggle. We implemented what was in her heart and mind; as vowed, release those freedom fighters who had fought Marcos, and move on.

The Salonga panel was a presidential body. Not only did we talk. We in fact acted and released the detainees. We cannot undo that now, 21 years after the event, by asking an RTC judge in Leyte to review and correct what we did, with all due respect.

Uncle Jovy said then that “we will not stop until all of them are released” if their actions had “a political complexion.” I echoed him, stressing, “without exception, all political prisoners.”

The US Embassy accepted that President Cory “was releasing [them] as she had promised to do this during the election campaign.” Representative Solarz said that if she “believes the release of all political prisoners would help bind the wounds of the Filipino people, the US would be ‘entirely in sympathy with her.’” I said, “[N]ational reconciliation is the paramount concern.”

True, Ka Satur, through self-help, had liberated himself the year before Edsa 1, but, as Cory Aquino Jr., I made it clear on February 27, 1986, that he “may now reappear without fear of being arrested.” I did not add “but only for the next 20 years.” (I do remember that when we would feel low in the Guest House, I would try to cheer everyone up by saying that the first 20 years would be the hardest. Maybe GMA hears this now.)

Joker and I do not always agree. He is with the Team Unity of The Arroyos (TUTAS). I may yet boycott but am misperceived as a GAGO (Grand Alliance of the Genuine Opposition) partisan.

But, on freedom fighter Satur, we have the same recollection as 1986 executive secretary and presidential spokesman respectively. Anything the NPA, the MILF, the RAM, etc. did before Edsa 1, including what Manong Johnny & Co. did, was erased, such as his fake ambush in 1972, his cheating in Cagayan in 1986, etc.

Guru and Panginoong Joker has spoken. Amen. He has not been rebuffed by President Cory, Uncle Jovy, Manong Eddie and Manong Johnny. May an RTC judge in a faraway place with a strange-sounding—we mean no disrespect—name review a high policy decision we made as a revolutionary government and embarrass the five of us, plus a President redeeming a promise?

The judiciary should not enter a political thicket. It may not today deal with a policy decision or political question resolved 21 years ago by the sovereign Filipino people.

Rizalist said...

Pure and utter rubbish from Rene Saguisag. It's the same imbecilic thinking that caused him to file the wrong case after Edsa 2. Instead of charging Davide, he charged GMA for the overthrow of Erap! Nuts! He's wrong about Edsa 1 and wrong about Edsa 2. Now we know the ROT that started in the Cory Administration. The mere intent of a ditzy housewife in the throes of attaining power, and the idiotic if idealistic acts of her "alter egoes " he now aggrandizes as acts of the sovereign Filipino people. What towering hubris. Yet there were MANY things Cory promised to do, such as recover the Marcos wealth. Instead, she indeed released the cronies. That is the reason for that "amnesty" he is talking about. They didn't wipe the slate clean, they crapped on it.

It was Peace and Freedom without Justice and Honor. Yecch!

Now we know the root of this evil we live through called the Philippines. Back room chicanery from "freedom fighters" and "human rights" activists.

You would defend Satur along with JPE? How about the Marcos cronies themselves?

justicialiga said...

Just on part 7.

Doesn't an assasination of the ABB or Sparrow unit involve some sort of premeditation that make it fall under murder then?