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Court rejects DOJ bid to revoke Satur Ocampo bail

A Manila court has denied the Department of Justice's (DOJ) request to revoke former Bayan Muna congressman Satur Ocampo's bail and detain him on murder charges.

The Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 denied state prosecutors' motion for the issuance of a recommitment order against Ocampo for lack of merit, according to a four-page order dated Monday.

Ocampo faces charges in connection with the 2006 discovery of a mass grave in Inopacan, Leyte that purportedly contained the bones of New People's Army members who were allegedly suspected of being spies for the government.

Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, National Democratic Front consultant Vicente Ladlad, negotiating panel senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, and then-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas deputy secretary-general Randall Echanis are also accused of murder.

The Supreme Court granted bail to Ocampo in 2014 and ruled that he would "remain on temporary liberty under the same bail granted by this Court until the termination of the proceedings before the RTC Manila."

Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina, the Manila judge, cited this ruling in deciding that the grant of bail to Ocampo "is not subject to any other condition" apart from its effectivity lasting until the termination of the proceedings in the case.

"While the Court is cognizant that such condition is without prejudice to any order of arrest that may [be] issued by another court, the latter instance is not obtaining herein," Medina wrote.

The DOJ had sought a recommitment order against Ocampo on the basis of another pending case—one for violation of anti-trafficking in relation to anti-child abuse laws pending before a Tagum City court, which they said showed his "proclivity to abuse" his provisional liberty.

The case, which stems from allegations that Ocampo and several others had trafficked 14 minors, is pending before a Tagum City court. The accused had said they were part of a humanitarian mission to Lumad schools.

In its opposition to the DOJ's motion, Ocampo's lawyers said the prosecution "maliciously insinuates" that Ocampo "is already guilty of kidnapping and child abuse."

"The prosecution's perverse, presumptuous and baseless position to commit accused Ocampo to prison is a chilling manifestation that their office is again being used and prostituted for political ends," the defense argued, as cited by the court.

In the ruling, the Manila court said the case in Tagum City is pending and that the prosecution failed to show that Ocampo had been ordered arrested on those charges.

"At any rate, any issuance of an order or a warrant of arrest by said court, if any, is outside this Court's ambit and jurisdiction under the doctrine of judicial stability or non-interference in the regular orders or judgments of a co-equal court," the judge wrote. — BM, GMA News