By Rey Panaligan
Former Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Saturnino Ocampo sought on Tuesday the dismissal of the criminal charges filed against him in connection with the transportation of minors from a Lumad school in Talaingod town in Davao del Norte last November.
In a counter-affidavit, Ocampo said the charges of trafficking in persons and child abuse are “malicious” and “preposterous” concocted by the policemen.
“I did not commit any crime. Hence, I humbly pray that the instant complaint be immediately dismissed for lack of probable cause and for being a clear case of political persecution,” he said in his affidavit.
Ocampo, ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro, and 16 others arrested last November are out on bail.
Aside from Ocampo and Castro, those arrested were identified as Meggie Nolasco, Pastor Edgar Ugal, Rev. Ryan C. Magpayo,Pastor Eller A. Ordeza, Rev. Jurie Jaime, Jesus Modamo, Maryro Poquita, Maria Concepcion Ibarra, Jenveive Paraba, Merhay Tallado, Maricel Andagkit, Marcial Rendon, Ariel Ansan, Mariane Aga, Nerfa Awing and Wingwing Daunsay.
Ocampo said the complaint for violation of Republic Act No. 10364 (Expanded Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012) in relation to Republic Act No. 7610 (Anti Child Abuse Law) and kidnapping and failure to return a minor is one of the many trumped-up charges filed against him since 1989.
He said only one of the eight cases filed against him since 1989 has prospered while the other charges had been dismissed.
He said he was not in the school where the incident took place as he was in a van which was not allowed to proceed to the school at a military checkpoint in Sitio Igang.
“I was on board the van that was not allowed to pass through. We stayed at the checkpoint in Sitio Ignang and waited for the other vans to return. I was not part of the group that met the students and teachers who were forced to leave the Salugpungan school in Sitio Dulyan,” he said.
He pointed out that he was implicated in the complaint being an invited member of a National Solidarity Mission (NSM), organized by the Save our Schools (SOS) Network, to provide humanitarian assistance to the Lumad students and teachers of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Ingkanogon Community learning Center, Inc. (STTICLCI), in Talaingod town.
Ocampo and members of his group were arrested on Nov. 29,2018 in the act of getting students and indigenous peoples of the Te Tanu Ingkanogon Community Learning Center Inc., a Lumad school, and moving them out of the town.
Ocampo said he protested their arrest and denied the criminal allegations against them.