Group offers ₱1-million bounty for arrest of anti-poverty chief, 3 ex-solons

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 4) — A group of anti-crime advocates is offering a ₱1-million reward for any information that would lead to the arrest of Anti-Poverty Commissioner Liza Maza and other three former solons facing a double murder charge.

The Citizens' Crime Watch in a press briefing on Saturday said it has raised ₱250,000 bounty for each of the four leftist leaders, but also called on them to surrender instead.

"Maigi siguro na managawan kami dun sa apat na dating lawmakers na lumutang na lang, sumurrender na lang sila and maging example sila na isubmit nila sarili nila for a judicial process," said Diego Magpantay, National President of the Citizens' Crime Watch.

[Translation: "Perhaps, it's best to call on the four former lawmakers to just surrender and be examples of those who submit themselves to judicial process."]

Maza's co-accused include former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael "Paeng" Mariano who also served as Anakpawis Partylist lawmaker, and former Bayan Muna House Representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casino. Maza previously represented Gabriela Women's Party at the lower chamber.

They are accused of murdering two supporters of rival partylist Akbayan in Nueva Ecija, particularly Jimmy Peralta in 2001, and Carlito Bayudang in 2004. Charges were filed in 2006, junked in 2008, but revived recently. A court in Nueva Ecija province on July 11 issued arrest warrants against them.

The lawyer of the four leftist leaders slammed the bounty as "bizarre and unsettling."

Public Interest Law Center managing counsel Rachelle Pasteros speculates the money could have come from taxpayers' money funneled to the group, or from former President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Lawyer Ferdinand Topacio admitted that some of his clients donated money for the bounty, but denied Arroyo was one of them.

"A lot of people are fed up with the antics of some of these politicians na nakakayamot na," he said.

When asked about Arroyo, Topacio said, ""Flatly no. Si GMA? Kuripot nun e (Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is stingy)."

He added this is not the first time the group pooled money for a bounty, saying they also raised P1 million for the arrest of Ronnie Dayan, a co-accused of Senator Leila de Lima, who has been detained on drug charges.

The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) said the raising of the bounty was a "cheap publicity stunt that unfortunately edangers the lives of the four accused."