By Genalyn Kabiling
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and his group are presumed innocent until proven guilty, Malacañang asserted Sunday in rejecting allegations about the government’s dirty work to deprive them of due process.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Ocampo and several others who have been accused of child abuse could now prepare for their defense after being released from police custody.
“Binibigyan sila ng due process. In fact binigyan sila ng bail eh, so palagay ko masyadong baseless yung akusasyon nila sa gobyerno [They are given due process. In fact, they were granted bail so I think the allegations against the government are baseless],” Panelo said in a radio interview.
Panelo maintained that the legal process should be allowed to take its course in the case of Ocampo and his group.
“Dahil naka demanda na sila [Because they have been charged] they have the right to defend themselves, they are entitled to the presumption of innocence, kaya nga sila binigyan ng bail para makapag prepare [they were given bail so they can prepare],” he said.
“Let the law run its course,” he added.
Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro and 16 others were arrested last week at a police checkpoint in Davao del Norte for holding minors in their convoy.
They claimed that they were on a humanitarian mission along with teachers from lumad schools.
The police however reportedly found out that the minors were transported without the parents’ consent.
A Davao del Norte judge eventually allowed Ocampo and his fellow accused to post bail last weekend.
Panelo said the group was initially accused of kidnapping and trafficking children but the charges have been “downgraded” to violations of the anti-child abuse law.
“Hindi tatanggapin yung demanda ng mga piskal kung walang probable cause. At wala naman, wala naman kinalaman ang executive sa judiciary ever since [The judge would not approve the complaint if there is no probable cause. And the executive has nothing to do with the work of the judiciary ever since],” he added.
He added it was the right of Ocampo and his group if they plan to file charges against any person who alleged violated their right.
“Kung sino ang lumabag, idemanda ninyo. Hayaan ninyong tumakbo ang batas sang ayon sa tinatakda ng Saligang Batas [You can sue those who violated your rights. Let the law run its course based on Constitution],” he said.