Public Interest Law Center' Managing Counsel Atty. Rachel F. Pastores of the / JONB

Warrants of arrest issued against thirty-eight (38) activists and political leaders are part of protocol by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32, in a decades old case and which has long been undergoing trial.

The prosecution moved for the issuance of warrants of arrest against 41 individuals, including Satur Ocampo, Rafael Baylosis, and Randall Echanis pursuant to the amended information dated June 19, 2014, amending the charges from multiple murder to fifteen (15) counts of murder. The motion came as a belated maneuver, filed when the cases are now at the trial stage and after the presentation of more than twenty-five witnesses.

And though the court issued warrants of arrest for 38 individuals, it must be noted that it denied the issuance of new warrants of arrest for Ocampo, Baylosis and Echanis. The three had earlier posted bail, applicable to all 15 counts of murder wherever pending or whatever case number. The court’s denial of the prosecution’s motion for the issuance of new warrants of arrest against Ocampo, Echanis and Baylosis proves the ridiculousness and flimsiness of the grounds relied upon by the prosecution.

It has become all too obvious that the prosecution is desperate and hell-bent on putting all accused in jail. The prosecution’s motion is obviously nothing more than an attempt to have critics of the Duterte Administration jailed despite the fact that the cases stem from a clearly trumped up charge initiated 13 years ago by the PNP, military, and the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG). This is the handiwork of the Inter-Agency Commitee on Legal Action (IACLA), with its systematic and intensified agenda of all-out repression. Like its predecessor the IALAG, the IACLA is using all its resources in its campaign against those it consider threats to the government.

Prior to the filing of the said motion, the prosecution also filed a motion for the issuance of a recommitment order for Ocampo for his alleged “manifested proclivity in abusing his provisional liberty”. The prosecution was referring to the charges slapped against Ocampo after going on a fact-finding mission concerning harassment of students of lumad schools in Mindanao. The motion for the issuance of recommitment order for Ocampo was previously denied by RTC Branch 32.