Malacañang on Monday distanced itself from remarks made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. slamming the arrest of former Bayan Representative SaturOcampo and described them as his “personal sentiments.”
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this statement after Locsin, in a tweet, questioned Ocampo’s arrest saying authorities did not even “bother to get the other side.”
“As a response to queries arising out of the the tweets of Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary TeodoroLocsin, Jr. who slammed the arrest of former legislator SaturOcampo, we wish to state that his personal position on the matter does not reflect the official view of the Administration on the issue,” Panelo said in a press statement.
Locsin and Ocampo were colleagues in the House of Representatives. Locsin was Makati 1st District Rep. from 2001 to 2010 while Ocampo was Deputy Minority Leader in the 14th Congress and Bayan Munapartylist group in 2001, 2004, and 2007.
“We therefore consider the remarks of Secretary Locsin as personal sentiments supportive of a friend being former colleagues with Mr. Ocampo in Congress,” Panelo said.
Panelo pointed out, however, that friendship does not give Ocampo the exemption from being charged of crimes such as human trafficking and kidnapping.
“Friendship, however, does not give birth to the conclusion that a person charged of a crime is innocent nor does a charge sheet automatically make such individual guilty thereof,” Panelo said.
Panelo emphasized that the Constitution grants every citizen the presumption of innocence and burdens the state to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt.
He, meanwhile, said that Ocampo and his group’s request to have a preliminary investigation to rebut the allegations, and to proffer evidence in support of their defense was granted by Prosecutor’s Office in Tagum City.
According to Panelo, this meant that Ocampo and his group are enjoying their liberty on account of the bail posted by them in court and reminded the former Congressman to let the legal process work.
“Those facts alone show they are being accorded due process. Other legal remedies to which they are entitled are available to them. Let the law take its course,” Panelo said.
Panelo also advised all parties to “trust the process without hasty and premature judgments.”
“Let the legal mechanism work as it should. That is what the Rule of Law is all about. The law hears before it convicts, and it hears before it acquits as well,” he added.
On Thursday, Ocampo and 17 others were arrested for allegedly holding 14 minors during a solidarity mission in Davao del Norte without the consent of their parents and permit from the Municipal Social Welfare Office.
Serious charges have been filed against them for violating Republic Act No. 10364 or the Expanded Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act of 2012.
On Friday, trafficking and kidnapping charges were filed against them. Ocampo and his group, however, posted bail and were released the following day. (PNA)