BAGUIO CITY – Citing failure to establish probable cause, Judge Trese Wenceslao of RTC Branch 40 in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija dismissed the double murder charges against former militant lawmakers of the Makabayan bloc on August 8.
The magistrate also quashed the arrest warrant against against former National Anti-poverty Secretary Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Partylist (GWP), former Department of Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, and Teddy Casiño and Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna.
“For them to stand trial and be deprived in the meantime of their liberty, however brief, would be a flagrant violation of a basic right which the courts are created to uphold,” said the ruling.
The Public Interest Law Center (PILC), the counsel for the Makabayan leaders, reiterated its prior belief that the charges, that were “built on lies and malice”, are meant to vilify and persecute the four.
“The case must now be buried in the grave of fabricated charges, especially along with the rebellion case dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2007,” said Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of PILC.
Maza on a separate statement published in her Facebook page noted the charges “should never have prospered in the first place,” adding it was a “defective attempt” of their opponents to derail their efforts for genuine socioeconomic and political reforms.
“From day one, I was confident the false and unsubstantiated charges against us would not stand up in court,” wrote Casiño in his Facebook account.
In a gathering at the Quezon City Sports Complex to celebrate their victory against the false charges filed against them on August 14, the Makabayan 4 welcomed the decision with “much relief”. They also acknowledge Wenceslao for “fairly upholding judicial standards”.
During the activity, the Makabayan leaders blamed the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) for the revival of the trumped-up charge and called for its abolition.
A joint resolution signed by former PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año on October 9, 2017 created the IACLA. Its purpose is to enhance the gathering of intelligence and cooperation of concerned agencies for the investigation, prosecution and monitoring of cases against threat groups. (Sherwin de Vera)