Monday, March 13, 2006

Why are they bringing a witness in the preliminary investigation?

Ex-rebel a gov't witness, says Congressman Casiño
First posted 10:58am (Mla time) Mar 13, 2006
By Maila Ager

A FORMER rebel who had supposedly seen the five party-list representatives 14 years ago in the mountains could be one of the government's witnesses against them, one of the five accused of rebellion said Monday.

Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño identified the former rebel by his last name only, a certain "Cachuela," allegedly the same witness used in the complaint filed against Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran.

"Cachuela is supposed to establish that we're in connivance with the New People's Army," Casiño said in a telephone interview, ahead of a preliminary investigation this Monday at the House.

Another witness, a gay beautician, might testify on their supposed connivance with coup plotters, the lawmaker added. He did not identify this witness.

Casiño bared the identity of the government's star witness even before prosecutors could present the witness at the Department of Justice.

But Casiño said he found it unusual that a witness was being presented at the first stage of the proceeding unless the government simply wanted to "out-drama" them.

"I don't know why they are bringing a witness in the PI [preliminary investigation]. Maybe they just want this witness to identify us so when we reach the court, he can now easily point us," Casiño said.

At the preliminary investigation, Casiño said he and his colleagues would also ask the prosecutors to be allowed to get out of the House's "protective custody" until either after the completion of the investigation or when an arrest warrant would be issued against them.

Casiño, along with his colleagues in Bayan Muna Satur Ocampo and Joel Virador; Liza Maza of Gabriela; and Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano have been in the custody of the House of Representatives for more than two weeks.

With President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other officials allegedly preempting their guilt even before their case can be tried, Casiño says their last hope will be to get a fair trial.

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