Posted by: nupl | February 29, 2008

CABINET MEMBERS INVOLVED IN THE LOZADA ABDUCTION CRIMINALLY LIABLE

February 14, 2008

Press Release

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers condemns the abduction of witness Rodolfo Lozada and Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s persistent disregard of the laws and the Constitution. and the continuing attempts to harass Mr. Lozada through threats and public vilification. NUPL also condemns the attempts to harass Mr. Lozada through threats and public vilification with the aim of discouraging him from further testifying.

The act of abducting Mr. Lozada from the airport by elements of the PNP is already an act of kidnapping and serious illegal detention because it deprived Mr. Lozada of his liberty, punishable under Art. 267 of the Revised Penal Code with the maximum penalty of reclusion perpetua.

Gen. Avelino Razon and Secretary Lito Atienza who admitted to the act are liable as principals. These officials, including retired Gen. Angel Atutubo are also criminally liable for conspiring to prevent the service of the Senate warrant in the guise of protective custody under Art. 233 of the Revised Penal Code:

Art. 233. Refusal of assistance. — The penalties of arresto mayor in its medium period to prision correccional x x x , shall be imposed upon a public officer who, upon demand from competent authority, shall fail to lend his cooperation towards the administration of justice or other public service, if such failure shall result in serious damage to the public interest, or to a third party x x x.

The defense of the PNP and Secretary Atienza that the basis of their custody is the supposed request by the family of Mr. Lozada and Mr. Lozada himself is a mere cover up since the purported letter request was written and signed by Mr. Lozada under duress while he was already detained by the PNP. Obviously the family of Mr. Lozada did not know who took him and they even filed a petition for the writ of amparo and frantically called on the media to pressure the government to release him.

This usual defense of “voluntary custody” is the template used by the military and the police in the various amparo cases filed by members of the NUPL. The claim that the subject volunteered to be under their custody is certainly not credible considering the duress under which Mr. Lozada was placed. The claim that the warrant cannot be served outside Senate premises is without legal basis since a warrant is specifically issued to facilitate the arrest of a subject anywhere in the country. Furthermore, the Supreme Court validated the arrest of PCGG Chair Camilo Sabio through a warrant served in the PCGG office in the case of Sabio vs. Gordon.

Lozada Testimony Credible: Investigation of Southrail demanded

The testimony of Mr. Lozada showed Atty. Mike Arroyo’s inordinate interest in the ZTE-Broadband contract and exposed as lies Atty. Arroyo’s claims that he has no involvement at all in that contract. The involvement of Cabinet members and the PNP head in the abduction of Mr. Lozada only shows that the accountability does not stop with Mr. Benjamin Abalos but leads directly to Malacanang. The scrambling efforts by cabinet secretaries to cover up the abduction is an attempt to divert the issue from the involvement of Pres. Arroyo and FG Mike Arroyo in the deal which makes them accountable under the anti graft law. The claim that no crime could have been committed because the contract was subsequently revoked is unavailing because the law does not contemplate acquitting a corrupt official by the expediency of revoking a contract once it is found to be irregular. An example is the provision under Sec. 3 (g) of RA 3019 which states that:

(g) entering, on behalf of government, into any contract or transaction manifestly disadvantageous to the same, whether or not the public officer profited or will profit thereby

Furthermore, Atty. Mike Arroyo is also accountable under the Code of Professional Responsibility which regulates the ethical conduct of lawyers particularly Rule 1.01 which prohibits lawyers from engaging “in unlawful, dishonest or deceitful conduct”.

The testimony of Mr. Lozada mentions the 22% overprice in the Southrail contract. NUPL demands that the said allegation be immediately investigated considering the exceedingly large amount of public funds involved.

The abduction of Mr. Lozada must be condemned by members of the legal profession because it is a clear violation of his human rights and a blatant disregard to Philippine laws. It is also a direct violation of the Senate’s constitutional power to conduct inquiries in aid of legislation and to compel attendance in the same. More importantly, the abduction of Mr. Lozada is another attempt to subvert the truth and derail the Senate investigation on the ZTE deal and the involvement of the Pres. Arroyo and her husband Atty. Mike Arroyo in the same.

The NUPL express its strongest support to Rodolfo Lozada and we commit to actively join peoples’ action to hold accountable Gloria Arroyo and those responsible for massive corruption and human rights violation.

Reference person: NUPL President Atty. Frederico Gapuz – 09063475709

*****

Read article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: Lawyers say officials can be charged for Lozada ‘abduction’

*****

UPDATE: The Latest News about Attacks against Lawyers

Read article in the International Herald Tribune: Killings in Philippines make justice a dangerous ambition

Read article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer: Lawyer critical after shooting incident in QC


 

 

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