Davao del Norte police denies delaying Talaingod 18’s release

Published December 3, 2018, 8:38 AM

by Patrick Garcia

By Martin Sadongdong

The Davao del Norte Provincial Police Office (PPO) on Sunday belied allegations that they tried to delay the release from jail of former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and 17 others over alleged trafficking of minors.

Senior Superintendent Ferlu Silvio, provincial director of Davao del Norte PPO, explained that they only waited for the “complete decision” of Tagum City Executive Judge Arlene Palabrica who ordered the group’s release.

Silvio said Ocampo and his companions were charged with multiple cases so they had to wait for the decision of Judge Palabrica on each case.

“‘Yung unang kaso po sa appraisal ng ating mga abugado is ‘yun pong mga piyansa para sa kanila sa RA 7610 (Anti-Child Abuse Law). Mayroon pa pong dalawang kasong nalalabi, itong kidnapping at saka failure to return a minor (The first case in the appraisal of the lawyers is on the bail for RA 7610. There were two cases left – kidnapping and failure to return a minor),” Silvio said in a radio interview over dzBB.

“Ngunit nagbago po iyon noong magkaroon ng changes ang decision ng judge so nilahat na po ang pag-bail. Kaya ho natagalan dahil may mga oral arguments pang ginawa, nilahat na po niya. Hindi po namin pinipigilan o anuman (However, it changed when the decision of the judge also changed so the bail [for all cases] was included. It took us some time because there were oral arguments and [Judge Palabrica] included all of the cases. We were not stopping [their release] or whatever,” he added.

He also said they had to wait for the security escort assigned to Ocampo’s group to ensure their safety.

“Kaya po natagalan dahil inaantay din namin ang mga security escort kasi malayo po sa Talaingod. Kung galing po ng Davao City, humigit kumulang 120 kilometers po ([The release] also took some time because we were waiting for the security escort since they’re far from Talaingod [town.] If they’re from Davao City, more or less that’s 120 kilometers),” he pointed out.

Ocampo and 17 other members of a fact-finding mission were apprehended at a checkpoint by elements of the Talaingod town police last Thursday in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Initial investigation showed they were caught transporting minor children from different parts of Mindanao to an undisclosed location.

It was learned that the minors were students of Salugpungan Learning Center which had been ordered closed by the Department of Education (DepEd) earlier this year.

Police claimed that the children were being given anti-government education for them to go against the administration.

However, Ocampo’s camp denied the allegations of the police and said they were rescuing the lumad children.

Ocampo and his companions were freed Saturday night after posting a P1.44-million bail bond.

In the initial inquest resolution released by Provincial Prosecutor Norman Solis, it was stated that the bail bond set for Ocampo’s group was P80,000.

However, police later clarified that the bail was only for the child abuse charge.

Palabrica then arranged for oral arguments to settle the matter and issued a supplemental order stating that Ocampo and his companions be released at 8:30 p.m. However, the group was released hours beyond the set time.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate slammed the delay and accused the police of defying the judge’s order.