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Camp of ex-Makabayan solons hits lawyer for P1M bounty

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Camp of ex-Makabayan solons hits lawyer for P1M bounty
Ferdinand Topacio even said that the bounty for the arrest of the four leaders could increase to P2 million.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — The camp of former party-list lawmakers tagged in the murder of three people in Nueva Ecija more than a decade ago slammed a lawyer for offering reward money for information that would lead to the arrest of the Makabayan leaders.

Rachel Pastores, the lawyer of four former solons, accused Ferdinand Topacio of indecently inciting people to take law into their own hands when his group Citizens’ Crime Watch offered P250,000 each for any lead on the whereabouts of National Anti-Poverty Commission chair Liza Maza, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano and former Bayan Muna party-list Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño.

Topacio even said the bounty for the arrest of the four leaders could increase to P2 million.

“It’s like a go-signal for a free-for-all race for bounty hunters, whether public or private persons. It comes at a time when extrajudicial killings are prevalent with impunity, endangering the lives of our clients,” Pastores said.

She noted that Topacio’s bounty call violates the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits lawyers from engaging in unlawful, immoral or deceitful conduct.

The offer of a reward money also mocks the Lawyer’s Oath to not wittingly or willingly promote any groundless or false suit, Pastores added.

“Topacio has forgotten his scared mission as an officer of the court. Instead of being a guardian of truth and the rule of law and an instrument in the fair dispensation of justice, he has allowed himself to become a mercenary of the greedy for power. What is his interest in this case? Or, whose interest is he promoting here?” Pastores said.

She added: “He reminds us of the words of a former Court of Appeals presiding judge that ‘There are men in any society who are so self-serving that they try to make law serve their selfish ends. In this group of men, the most dangerous is the man of the law who has no conscience.”

Malacañang on Sunday distanced itself from the bounty.

“That is a private initiative. As far as we are concerned, all aspects of this case are in the hands of the court and we look forward to an impartial and expeditious trial,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Last week, he urged Maza and the three others to surrender to authorities and prove their innocence in court.

READPalace asks anti-poverty chief Maza to surrender

FERDINAND TOPACIO

LIZA MAZA

RAFAEL MARIANO

SATUR OCAMPO

TEDDY CASIñO

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