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Surrender, Palace asks Maza’s group



“The President expects Cabinet members to adhere to the rule of law.

The lawyer of three former Bayan Muna party-list lawmakers and known leftist Liza Maza questioned yesterday the issuance of a warrant of arrest against her clients by a Nueva Ecija court.

According to Atty. Rachel Pastores, the said court even ruled in 2008 there’s no probable cause to charge her clients thus the warrant was dubious.

The court ordered the arrest of former representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Rafael Mariano, as well as Maza, the convenor of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

Meanwhile, Malacañang on Tuesday urged Maza and company to surrender to authorities.

“If they are innocent, they should surrender, recognize the jurisdiction of the court and prove their innocence,” said Presidential spokesman Harry Roque in a press briefing. “She has to heed the warrant of arrest. Not even the president can interfere in the judicial process.”

Roque said President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet spoken about the matter, but the chief executive “expects Cabinet members to adhere to the rule of law in this country.”

Other leftist members of the Duterte administration have since left the government, including former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo and former agrarian reform secretary Rafael Mariano.

The four were accused in 2006 of killing political rivals.

“The same court said in 2008 that the case had no probable cause due to irregularities in the preliminary investigation and the failure of witnesses to appear before a fiscal to back their claims,” said Pastores.

The court did not explain why it changed its stance and issued the arrest warrant, she added.

“Nothing changed with the evidence submitted before the court, it’s still the same. What would be the basis to change the order or decision of the court?” she asked.

Lawyer Neri Colmenares—himself a former representative of Bayan Muna representative — had claimed the case was filed to discourage dissent during the time of then-President and now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The leftist leaders have filed a motion for reconsideration seeking to dismiss the case and the warrant of arrest against them, said Pastores.