P1 million reward up for arrest of 4 ex-lawmakers

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star
P1 million reward up for arrest of 4 ex-lawmakers
Lawyers Diego Magpantay, Ferdie Topacio and Glenn Chong of Citizen’s Crime Watch hold a press conference yesterday in Quezon City to offer a P1-million reward for information leading to the arrest of former Bayan Muna representatives Satur Ocampo and Teodoro Casiño, former Gabriela representative Liza Maza and former Agrarian Reform secretary Rafael Mariano.
Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — A group calling itself Citizens Crime Watch yesterday offered a P1-million reward for information leading to the arrest of four former leftist lawmakers who are facing murder charges in Palayan City in Nueva Ecija.

Lawyers Diego Magpantay and Ferdie Topacio, the group’s president and legal counsel, respectively, dangled 10 thick wads of newly minted P1,000 bills at a news forum in Quezon City.

“Technically, they are now fugitives from justice,” Topacio said of ex-lawmakers Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño, former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano and Liza Maza.

Malacañang has urged Maza, who holds a Cabinet rank as chair of the National Anti-Poverty Council, to give up. Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Albayalde has addressed the same appeal to the four former members of the House of Representatives.

House allies of the four immediately condemned the Magpantay-Topacio group’s reward offer. 

“This is evidently a cheap political stunt and vendetta by sycophants who want to claw their way to power. If anything untoward happens to our Makabayan leaders, we will hold Topacio, et al directly responsible,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate said.

“Kung may topak ang nagpakana nitong clearly trumped-up case na ito, mas lalong may topak at malisya ang nagtutulak nitong bounty (If the ones behind the trumped-up case is insane, the ones behind this bounty are even more insane),” he said.

Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said Magpantay’s and Topacio’s “cheap stunt is in fact part of the military and PNP game of demonizing non-stop the Makabayan Four using the 12-year old trumped up double murder case in Palayan City.

Magpantay told the news forum that the four, being former lawmakers, “should set the example in obeying the law.”

“There is no politics here. This is not our money. It was contributed by anti-crime advocates who do not want to be identified,” he said.

Topacio admitted that some of the contributors are his clients.

He added that contributors of the bounty are the same people who put up a P1-million reward for information leading to the arrest of Ronnie Dayan, a former driver of detained Sen. Leila de Lima who turned witness against her.

The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the reward money is nothing but a lame publicity stunt that unfortunately endangers the lives of the four accused.

“What is the point of this PR (public relations) gimmick of Topacio when the Palayan regional trial court is already set to decide on the motion for reconsideration of the accused former lawmakers?” asked Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes.

Reyes said they look forward to a just and favorable resolution of this case that has dragged on for 12 years. – With Rhodina Villanueva






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