Liza Maza, three ex-solons file appeal over murder charge

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 30) — The camp of Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza, and three ex-solons submitted an appeal following warrants issued for their arrest over a murder charge.

Maza, who previously represented Gabriela Women's Party in the lower chamber, along with former Agrarian Secretary and Anakpawis Partylist member Rafael Mariano, and former Bayan Muna Party-list members Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño, filed their motion for reconsideration (MR) Monday to the Palayan City Court.

A hearing has been set on Friday, their lawyer said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Oscar Albayalde said he has given a directive to apprehend the four former congressmen and three individuals after receiving the order from the regional court.

"I have directed the [Criminal Investigation and Detection Group] CIDG over the weekend to immediately send out arresting teams to serve the warrant of arrest against Satur Ocampo, Liza Maza, Teodoro Casiño, Rafael Mariano, Vicente Cayetano, Delfin Pimentel and Emeterio Antalan," he said in a press conference.

The former lawmakers and leaders were accused of the murder of three supporters of rival partylist Akbayan, particularly Carlito Bayudang, Jimmy Peralta, and Danny Felipe in Nueva Ecija in 2001 and 2004. Charges were filed in 2006, however, Public Interest Law Center (PILC) managing counsel Rachelle Pasteros said the case had been junked by the Regional Trial Court of Guimba, Nueva Ecija in 2008. The witnesses were previously discredited, PILC said.

Pastores raised suspicion over the revival of the case after a decade's hiatus and called the matter, "curious."

READ: Arrest order issued vs. anti-poverty chief Liza Maza, 3 ex-solons

Regardless of the MR,  the warrants of arrest against Maza, Mariano, Ocampo, and Casiño are still in effect. However, Albayalde urged the accused to surrender instead. He said he will give them "enough time" to come forward to the authorities.

"We will give them enough time for them to personally appear or personally surrender. We give them the respect also as government officials para maayos na lang [to avoid trouble]," the chief said. "Kaya nga we made an appeal today to personally appear na lang [That's why we made an appeal for them to just personally appear]."

Asked whether the warrants have been made in bad faith against known government critics, Albayalde maintained they are just following orders.

"Wala tayong kinalaman doon [We have nothing to do with it]. This is the court's decision. We will follow the order as part of our mandate to serve warrants of arrest," he said.

Maza will also not be granted immunity, even as the NAPC chief, because murder is a major offense, according to the PNP.