The Philippine National Police arrested Bayan Muna (People First Party) Representative Satur Ocampo on 16 March 2007 while he was filing a Petition for Certiorari before the Supreme Court seeking to quash the baseless criminal complaint against him filed by government prosecutors. The Supreme Court ordered a Hearing before the Court on March 23 on his petition and his prayer to hold in abeyance the execution of the warrant of arrest.
Rep. Satur’s lawyers contend that the Supreme Court intended that a hearing on the issue must first be heard before the warrant is executed in order not to render the March 23 hearing moot. They argue that there is no need to arrest Satur before the March 23 hearing especially since Rep. Satur, who is currently campaigning for reelection, has publicly stated that he will face the charges against him and will not evade arrest. The government, however, insisted on arresting Satur despite the Supreme Court order for a Hearing and has confined him at the Manila Police Headquarters. The government is also threatening to immediately transfer him to the hinterlands of Leyte, where the prosecutors chose to file the case, hundreds of miles from Manila. Satur’s lawyers argue that he could not be transferred absent an order from the Supreme Court now that the court has taken cognizance of his petition.
Based on this unjust decision, Rep. Satur will be physically restrained from fulfilling his function as a member of Congress and his role as the lead campaigner of his party Bayan Muna, which continues to top the poll surveys getting the support of 17% of the voters.
The case is baseless and, therefore, pure harassment because it charges Satur with murder committed 22 years ago when he was in prison under Marcos’ martial law regime. Rep. Satur, who was one of the main authors of the law prohibiting death penalty in the Philippines, could not have possibly committed the crimes imputed on him.
The Philippines has been beset with political instability following rising protest against Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on charges of corruption, electoral fraud and human rights violations. Satur and Bayan Muna actively campaigned for the impeachment of Pres. Arroyo on these charges, particularly the escalating political killings against members of Bayan Muna and other opposition parties, the media, church workers and human rights activists. More than 838 people have died, 130 of them members of Bayan Muna, since Pres. Arroyo came to power in 2001.
FREE SATUR OCAMPO! END POLITICAL REPRESSION!
Exert pressure on the Philippine government by signing the Open Statement below, gathering support and signatures, and then by sending it to Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez and Philippine National Police Dir. Gen. Oscar Calderon:
Department of Justice, Padre Faura Steet, Manila, Philippines;
Fax Number: +632 5211614;
Telephone Number: +632 5238481 to 89;
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org Philippine National Police, Camp Crame, Quezon City, Philippines;
Fax Number: +632 7248763;
Telephone Number: +632 7264361 / +632 7264365;
Email Address: chiefpnp@pnp. gov.ph Please furnish a copy of your email to:
Bayan Muna = email@example.com
Office of Congressman Satur Ocampo = firstname.lastname@example.org
OPEN STATEMENT FROM PARLIAMENTARIANS AND FRIENDS OF SATUR OCAMPO IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
Free Satur Ocampo! End Political Repression!
We, parliamentarians and friends from different countries, express grave concern and great alarm over the arrest of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, who is currently campaigning for reelection under the opposition party Bayan Muna.
We fail to comprehend why a warrant of arrest was issued based on a criminal case for murder committed 22 years ago at the time when Satur was in prison during the martial law regime of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos. We are also concerned why a 22 year-old case was resurrected during the campaign period at the time when Satur, a staunch critique of the government, is heading the campaign of his party for reelection. We are alarmed that Satur is not granted at least, his right to bail, since it is improbable that the evidence of his guilt is strong considering that the crime imputed is more than 2 decades old.
We are aware of the escalating political killings in the Philippines targeting members of opposition parties and government critiques. We were also informed of escalating harassment against them during the election period, and would like express our belief that opposition parties, including their leaders, must be allowed to campaign freely during the campaign period.
We express our deepest concern over these developments and urge the Philippine government to respect Satur’s rights to due process. We urge the speedy release of Satur Ocampo from prison and that he and his party, and all opposition parties for that matter, be allowed to freely campaign. We call for a stop to the political killings and human rights violations in the Philippines.