MANILA - A Leftist lawmaker rejected Malacañang's claim that due process was observed in the arrest of former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, ACT-Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro and 16 others in Davao del Norte.
"Only [the] stupid and idiots will believe the Malacañang statement that there was due process. In fact, the application of due process to Satur and Congresswoman Castro has never been applied," said Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel Casilao in an interview with ANC Sunday.
Casilao contrasted Ocampo's arrest with the case of former First Lady Imelda Marcos who had already been convicted of graft by the Sandiganbayan but has yet to be arrested.
Ocampo's group was nabbed at a checkpoint in Talaingod town last Wednesday night after they were found carrying minors who are reportedly students of a Lumad school.
The police claimed the group failed to present documents of parental consent for the minors when they were apprehended. Chief Supt. Benigno Durana, PNP spokesperson, also claimed the arrest "stemmed from complaints of parents and tribal leaders."
ACT-Teachers Party-list earlier said the group was initially in Talaingod for a humanitarian mission but they were forced to rescue the Lumad students and teachers in Salugpungan Learning Center who called for help.
Casilao insisted that the arrest of Ocampo and his team was illegal since the group was supposedly responding to calls for help by the Lumad children, and teachers who were trying to escape from harassment by paramilitary troops.
"The Lumad children and teachers tried to escape a very hostile situation, threats and harassment from paramilitary troops," Casilao told ANC.
Ocampo's group has been temporarily released after they posted bail but Casilao said the threat of harassment and re-arrest remains, claiming the police are bent on taking custody of the former lawmaker.
Casilao said they are confident that the human trafficking charges against Ocampo's group will be scrapped.