Lawyers of political activists to seek dismissal of Hilongos case

In their petition, defense lawyers argued that the Hilongos case is simply a recycled case maliciously filed with the sole motive of persecuting their clients.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Lawyers of high-profile political prisoners are set to file a motion to quash the information filed by the public prosecutor.

In today’s clarificatory hearing, Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina of the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 gave the defense ten days to file the said motion.

Political prisoners Wilma Tiamzon and Benito Tiamzon and their co-accused Vicente Ladlad, Rafael Baylosis and Randall Echanis, all of whom are consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace talks with the government, attended the hearing. They are among the more than 70 respondents to the multiple murder charges filed in relation to an alleged mass grave found in Inopacan, Leyte in August 2006.

“The information is defective,” lawyer Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) said. Only one information has been filed for the 15 alleged victims.

During the hearing, Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong asked the court to give the prosecution enough time to file appropriate pleadings. Ong said that in 2007, the prosecution filed a motion to admit amended information and to file 14 new information. He admitted, however, that he could not find the amended information.

Judge Medina said records show that the amended information was not attached to the motion filed by the prosecution in 2007. She then asked Ong, “Why did you not do that?”

Ong reasoned out that Leyte is far from Manila and he needed time to talk with Public Prosecutor Rosulo Vivero who filed the charges.

Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon attend today's hearing at the Manila Trial Court Branch 32. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)
Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon attend today’s hearing at the Manila Trial Court Branch 32. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / Bulatlat.com)

“This case has been pending for many years. It has been three months since this case has been set for clarificatory hearing,” Medina said.

Asked to comment, Pastores said the records of the Hilongos case have been transmitted to the Manila court and there is no need for Ong to confer with Vivero.

Pastores said that Vivero wanted to amend the information due to the comments during the oral arguments before the Supreme Court. She said the high court justices “noticed the information to be duplicitous, which Pastores said, is “obviously a ground for the quashing the information.”

In its February ruling, the SC dismissed the consolidated petitions for certiorari filed by the accused and gave a go-signal to the Manila RTC to proceed with the case.

In March, lawyers of the respondents filed a motion for reconsideration before the high court.

In their petition, defense lawyers argued that the Hilongos case is simply a recycled case maliciously filed with the sole motive of persecuting their clients.

The petitioners said Vivero used recycled and false evidence as basis to file multiple murder charges. Five of the alleged victims, whose skeletal remains were allegedly found in Monterico village, Baybay, Leyte on June 27, 2000 were the same alleged victims in the Hilongos case, whose skeletal remains were allegedly found on August 26, 2006 in Mt. Sapang Dako, Inopacan, Leyte.

The case was filed in 2006, at the height of filing of trumped-up charges against critics of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The accused have denied involvement in the killings. In 1984, at the time the alleged incident took place, Satur Ocampo, also a co-accused, and Ladlad were in jail. Ladlad was freed in 1986 and Ocampo escaped prison in 1985.

The prosecution is given 15 days from receipt of the motion to quash the information to file its comment. Medina said that thereafter, the motion is deemed for resolution.

Tiamzons to remain in Crame

Medina dismissed the motion filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to transfer the custody of the Tiamzon couple to any facility of the Bureau of Jail and Management Penology (BJMP). The Tiamzons are currently detained at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.

Lawyer Edre Olalia of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL) said the couple faces several “trumped-up” cases in three different courts and each issued a separate commitment order. Olalia said the uniform dispositive portion of the orders is that the custody be given to PNP custodial service unit.

“The Northern Samar court, alleging the accused as ‘high value targets’ stated that transfer to a regular jail poses a security risk,” Olalia said.

Medina said the court shall adopt the said ruling. ()

Share This Post