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‘Makabayan 4’ call for abolition of Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
âMakabayan 4â call for abolition of Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action
National Anti-Poverty Commission chief Liza Maza, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and former Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño finally appeared Tuesday following the dismissal of murder charges and revocation of arrest warrants against them.
Rep. Carlos Zarate / Twitter

MANILA, Philippines — Four former party-list lawmakers called for an end to the persecution of activists and the abolition of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action, which they said was behind the resurrection of “trumped-up charges” against them.

National Anti-Poverty Commission chief Liza Maza, former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and former Bayan Muna Reps. Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño finally appeared Tuesday following the dismissal of murder charges and revocation of arrest warrants against them.

In his August 8 resolution, acting Presiding Judge Trese Wenceslao said the evidence on hand failed to establish probable cause against the accused.

READNueva Ecija court junks case vs ex-Makabayan solons

During the press briefing, the four former solons expressed grave concern over the “growing trend of resurrecting or initiated fabricated charges against people pushing for changes.”

They stressed that the revival of the case for the killing of reported supporters of rival party-list Akbayan more than a decade ago was an aftermath of the IACLA.

IACLA is an agency created in October 2017 tasked to file cases in court against activists. It is jointly operated by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“If it is truly the handiwork of the IACLA as some quarters have alleged, then this body requires re-examination as did its predecessor, the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group under the time of [former president Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo, which was abolished upon the recommendation of the United Nations,” Maza said.

If proven that IACLA had a hand in the revival of cases against the former legislators, it must be abolished, the NAPC chief said.

Mariano, for his part, stressed the need for the abolition of IACLA.

“Nakikiisa tayo sa panawagan na i-abolish ‘tong IACLA na gumagawa at nag-iimbento ng mga kaso at tinutulak at binubuhay ang mga lumang kaso para pandagan sa sinumang nakikibaka para sa katotohanan, katarungan at kagalingan para sa nakararami,” the former DAR chief said.

At least 129 rights defenders and dissenters have already been arrested since IACLA’s creation, according to rights group Karapatan.

“Talagang merong escalation, pagtindi ng ganitong mga gawa-gawang kaso laban sa mga aktibista at kritiko,” Casiño said.

Moreover, Ocampo said there is no reason to surrender to the authorities because there is no evidence linking them to the accusation.

Citing concerns about their security, Casiño added they did not surrender since there were individuals killed under the custody of the police.

The camp of the former solons said it is ensuring to file a civil case against lawyer Ferdinand Topacio.

His group, Citizen’s Crime Watch, offered P250,000 each for any lead on the whereabouts of the four.

LIZA MAZA

RAFAEL MARIANO

SATUR OCAMPO

TEDDY CASIñO

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