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Ocampo, 3 others declared ‘non-parties’ in case tagging CPP-NPA as terrorist group

PHILSTAR/KRIZ JOHN ROSALES

A REGIONAL court in Manila has declared former leftist Bayan Muna representative Saturnino “Satur” C. Ocampo, United Nations Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, and two others as “non-parties” in a petition filed by the Justice department tagging the communist groups in the country as terrorists.

In a resolution dated July 27, the Manila Trial Court ruled that Mr. Ocampo and Ms. Corpuz, along with National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rafael Baylosis and former Baguio politician Jose Melencio Molintas, should not be included in the case as the Department of Justice (DoJ) failed to clearly establish their ties with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA).

The resolution, signed by Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar, stated that Mr. Ocampo and Mr. Baylosis are considered non-parties because the DoJ did not indicate their association to the CPP-NPA clearly and “any personal account in evidence thereof must be up-to-date.”

For Ms. Corpuz and Mr. Molintas, the court said “there is nothing in the Petition or its attachments” that points to their being officers or representatives of the CPP-NPA.

Atty. Rachel F. Pastores, legal counsel to Mr. Ocampo and Mr. Baylosis, said in a statement that the DoJ should just drop its petition.

“In the absence of any evidence against them, the DoJ should just withdraw the petition for proscription,” Ms. Pastores said.

“The court order is proof that the case, where allegations have been recycled countless times, reeks with ill-motive and red-tagging,” she added.— Gillian M. Cortez

Justice chief wants DoJ hold order power

THE JUSTICE secretary is hoping that Congress will pass a law granting the Department of Justice (DoJ) the authority to stop people under preliminary investigation from leaving the country.

DoJ Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra, in a text message to reporters on Wednesday, said while they welcome the Supreme Court’s (SC) recent approval of the Precautionary Hold Departure Order (PHDO), he hopes that “(C)ongress will enact a law that will directly empower the SOJ (secretary of justice) to restrict the right to travel of persons under preliminary investigation for very serious offenses, subject to constitutional limitations.”

The SC on Tuesday approved the PHDO, to be issued by courts, which will prevent persons in cases involving crimes where the minimum penalty is at least six years and one day from departing the Philippines even before they are formally charged.

The PHDO should be filed by a prosecutor with a regional trial court.

SC spokesperson Theordore O. Te said on Tuesday that the prosecutor must prove upon application of the PHDO that “There is a high probability that the subject will depart from the Philippines to evade arrest and prosecution of crime against him or her.”

The PHDO would be valid until the court decides to recall it or upon paying a bond, to be determined by the court.

Last April, the high court declared that the Justice secretary has no right to issue hold departure orders or watch list orders by ruling that DoJ Circular No. 41 is unconstitutional. — Gillian M. Cortez





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