Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Batasan 6" Face Off With Hooded Witness

Six partylist representatives facing rebellion complaints before the Department of Justice had a chance to meet face to face, literally, their accuser, self-proclaimed communist Jaime Fuentes.

Fuentes appeared wearing a yellow short-sleeved polo, cap and dark sunglasses but removed them before the partlylist congressmen led by Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo. Fuentes was uppish in front of the respondents, crossing his arms most of the times and at one point, chuckling while talking to his police escorts.

He had accused seeing Ocampo and five other congressmen of conspiring with rebel soldiers and communist leaders to topple the administration of President Arroyo. He gained access to these so-called secret meetings because he was chief security of Bayan Muna Executive Director Vic Ladlad, one of those also accused of rebellion.

But Ocampo denied ever knowing Fuentes.

"He's a military asset. He's under the custody of the 74th Infantry Batallion. So what the military supposedly knows about us, they placed in his affidavit, so that's perjury," Ocampo said.

Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño said it was impossible for Fuentes to have been present in the alleged meetings, assuming they actually happened. "That's the first time I saw him. But in his affidavit he made it appear like we've known each other for a long time," Casiño said.

Fuentes was whisked by police escorts shortly before the hearing adjourned.

"He's a star witness whose luster won't last long. He will be destroyed," Casiño added.

The respondents' lawyer Atty. Romeo Capulong moved for the dismissal of the case claiming the complaint was defective as it was not subscribed to by the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

Capulong further noted that some of the respondents did not receive the complete copy of the complaint.

"These errors were pointed out not to cure them. But we ask that the complaint be dismissed," Capulong said.

But the DOJ panel headed by Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco declined ruling on the motion and instead asked the respondents to file the proper manifestation in three days.

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