Soldiers seek Satur’s public apology

A regional trial court on Friday, August 14, denied the privilege of the Writ of Amparo filed by three militant lawyers against military and police officers in the region. The Congressman who earlier sensationalized an “order of battle” list failed to prove his claim about the existence of said “OB List”.

Judge Jose Emmanuel M.Castillo of Branch 10 of the Regional Trial Court 11, after a careful evaluation dismissed the petition filed by lawyers Angela Librado-Trinidad, Carlos Isagani Zarate and Lilibeth Ladaga against Major General Reynaldo Mapagu, Commanding General of the Army’s 10th Infantry Division; Colonel Lysander Suerte and Lieutenant Colonel Kurt Decapia, General Mapagu’s Chief of Staff and Public Information Officer, respectively; Colonel Oscar Lactao, Task Force Davao Commanding Officer; and Davao City Police Chief Senior Superintendent Ramon Apolinario. Judge Castillo denied the petition of the respondents because the latter failed to prove, by substantial evidence, that their perceived threat to life, liberty and security is attributable to the unlawful act or omission of the respondents.
The petition stemmed from the alleged “Order of Battle” which Bayan Muna Congressman Satur Ocampo claimed he received from a “conscientious soldier”. The military respondents vehemently denied authorship of the purported “OB List” saying it does not bear the distinctive marks and security classifications that military documents normally contain”.

In ruling against the petition, the court considers the statement of Congressman Ocampo as “empty” and “hearsay” considering that he has no direct or personal knowledge on the authenticity of the subject “OB List”. For unknown reason, Congressman Ocampo did not personally testify to affirm what he stated in his affidavit and he also failed to present the “conscientious soldier” who the court says “could have possibly put petitioner’s position in a better light”. Based on the evidence presented by the petitioner, the court was unconvinced that the violent deaths of militant members Celso Pojas, Ludenio Monzon and Dr. Rogelio Peñera is in any way related to the alleged “OB”.

Colonel Oscar Lactao expressed his elation over the court’s decision which he describes as the “triumph of the truth over propaganda”. He says, “The verdict of the court sends a very clear message. All the malicious allegations hurled against the military by Congressman Ocampo, which have caused undue fear and anxiety to the respondents and unfairly besmirched the integrity of our organization, are unfounded. It is therefore incumbent upon him, being a public official who, in everything he says and does, is accountable to the Filipino people, to correct his erroneous statement and apologize for the wrong done to our soldiers and the Filipino nation.”

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