DAVAO CITY – Bayan Muna president and former House representative Satur Ocampo, and 17 others facing raps over alleged trafficking of minors were released at half past 8 p.m Saturday after each of them posted a bail of PHP80,000.
Executive Judge Arlene Palabrica, of the Regional Trial Court Branch 31 in Davao del Norte, ordered police authorities to release Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, the school administrator and teachers of the Salugpungan Community Learning Center (SCLC), two staff of the ACT and three ministers of the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) and one of the United Methodist church, who were arrested on in Talaingod, Davao del Norte on Nov. 28.
They were also accused of violating Republic Act No. 10364 or The Expanded Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2012 and Article 270 of the Revised Penal Code which defines and provides penalty on the offense of kidnapping and failure to return a minor.
Hours before their release, the court also conducted a preliminary investigation, including the waiver of Article 25 of the Revised Penal Code that provides delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities.
These were earlier requested by Ocampo and Castro.
The release of Ocampo and others was confirmed by Davao del Norte Provincial Director, Senior Superintendent Felu Silvio, and Police Regional Office (PRO)-11 spokesperson Chief Inspector Jason Baria on Saturday night.
Senior Inspector Alerene Faluche of the Talaingod Police Station, in a text message, also confirmed that 11 female minors have been turned over to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here on Friday; one female minor was already fetched by her parents while the two boys were handed over to DSWD Tagum City.
The minors are also undergoing counseling while waiting for their parents to get them.
Ocampo and Castro were reportedly part of the National Humanitarian Mission in Talaingod, Davao del Norte due to a report that students of the said lumad schools were fleeing the area following the latter’s forcible closure.
In an interview with ANC News this morning, Ocampo denies his direct link with NDF (National Democratic Front) neither he said he is in anyway a generic part of the group at present and that he has been a subject of political harassment and persecution since the Marcos years.
He also said his act of aiding the students were misinterpreted, but the former Bayan Muna Representative got a support from DFA secretary Teddy Boy locsin. The secretary said that he has been supportive of Ocampo’s stand since they were colleagues in congress. Malacanang distance itself from Locsin statement.
Ocampo who is turning 80 years old next year was charge by the police for child abuse and human trafficking. This he denied and explained that they were only there to bring food to students and teachers and their mission was coordinated with the former governor. Out on liberty Ocampo’s group is considering to file a counter charge. (LON/PNA)
Photo by Barry Ohaylan/Inquirer