SC allows leftist leaders linked to massacre case to post bail

February 15, 2012 11:12 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 15 – The Supreme Court (SC) has allowed the three co-accused of Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo in a multiple murder case to post a P100,000 bail each in connection with their alleged involvement in a bloody purge of communist rebels in Inopacan town, Leyte in 2002.

In an en banc ruling signed by Clerk of Court Atty. Enriqueta Vidal, the SC granted the urgent motion to bail filed by petitioner Vicente Ladlad, consultant of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) and a member of its negotiating panel.

The two CPP-NDF members, namely Rafael Baylosis and Randall Echanis were also allowed to post a P100,000 bail each.

The SC approved with modification Echanis' motion to lift conditions of release by requiring him to bail for his temporary liberty.

"As regards petitioner Echanis, the court should grant his provisional release upon posting…bail, subject to the same condition of petitioners Ladlad and Baylosis that his temporary release shall be limited to the period of his actual participation as consultant in the CPP-NDF negotiation team," the SC decision said.

Ocampo and his co-accused were charged because of their alleged involvement in the killing of former communist rebels which were branded by several SC justices as a political crime and can be included in the case filed before the Makati City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

Ocampo was arrested on March 16, 2007 due to the discovery on Aug. 26, 2006 of a mass grave site belonging to the CPP-New People's Army (NPA) at Sitio Sapang Daco, Barangay Jaulisan, Inopacan, Leyte.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) did not object on condition that the duration of Ocampo's provisional release be limited to the period of his actual participation as consultant of the CPP-NDF negotiating team.

"We adopt the recommendation of the OSG on the matter," the SC ruling said.

The records related to Ocampo showed that prior to its grant of his provisional release upon posting a cash bond, the court heard the parties' oral arguments in relation to the main issues in the petition.

In his case, Echanis had previously been granted provisional release by the SC upon posting a P100,000 cash bond.

No oral arguments were held in his case, and his temporary release was limited "for a period not exceeding six (6) months, unless the formal peace negotiations are earlier concluded or terminated."

The military had accused Echanis, who also served as executive adviser of Anakpawis party-list group, of being involved in the Leyte killings of suspected government spies and the bloody purge of some members of the Rebolusyonaryong Hukbong Bayan (RHB) in 2002.

According to the military, Echanis, who had a P5-million bounty on his head, had a hand in the mass murder after the RHB broke away from the NPA, the military arm of the CPP-NDF.

Echanis was arrested in January 2009 in Bago, Negros Occidental. (PNA) RMA/PTR

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