Tuesday, February 28, 2006

No to inquest, warrantless arrests

Press Statement
February 28, 2006

Capulong's advice to Satur et al: No to inquest, warrantless arrests

By Satur C. Ocampo
Representative, Bayan Muna
Deputy Minority Leader, House of Representatives

Upon the advice of our chief legal counsel Justice Romeo T. Capulong, we have refused to be subjected to inquest proceedings being foisted by Chief State Prosecutor Jovencito Zuño.

Inquest cannot be done because we have not been arrested. As per agreement yesterday, we remain under the protective custody of the Speaker, pending the serving of appropriate warrants of arrest.

If the Arroyo government wants to prosecute us, it should follow the law by starting with preliminary investigation based on the complaints purportedly filed by the Philippine National Police.

I advise Mr. Zuño and his representatives to contact Justice Capulong for whatever information they may need.

I reiterate: Reps. Casiño, Virador, Maza, Mariano and I have not been charged in any court. Only courts – not the justice department – can issue valid warrants of arrest. At the moment, we go back behind our office desks, and attend hearings and take part in plenary sessions.

It has also come to my attention that the PNP has sent operatives inside House premises. It is doubtful that they have warrants of arrest. I remind them that they cannot undertake warrantless arrests right here, lest they violate due process and the House resolution against unwanted police and military presence inside the House premises.

I urge the people to uphold their civil and political rights and resist arbitrary, illegal and warrantless arrests.

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