Palace asks NAPC chief to surrender, can be given detention facility similar to De Lima
Malacanang urged on Tuesday National Anti-Poverty Commission head Liza Maza to surrender following the warrant of arrest issued by a trial court in Palayan City.
Maza, the remaining Cabinet official who came from the left, could even be placed in a detention facility in the national police's Camp Crame headquarters, similar to opposition Senator Leila de Lima, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
"Of course, if there are warrants of arrest, they are lawfully issued by a trial court, if I'm not mistaken in Nueva Ecija. So, if they are innocent, then they should in fact surrender, recognize the jurisdiction of the court and prove their innocence in court. That is what we expect from everyone," he said in a press briefing.
Warrants were also issued against former Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, and former Bayan Muna party-list representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casi?o for their alleged involvement in the killings of Danilo Felipe, Carlito Bayudang and Jimmy Peralta in 2001 and 2004.
Palayan City Regional Trial Court Branch 40 Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla issued the warrants against Maza and the three former lawmakers, who claimed that those were "trumped-up" charges.
Asked of Maza's status in the Duterte administration, Roque said, "she hasn't been fired."
"But, because she is wanted, she may become a fugitive if she doesn’t surrender. And if she goes on AWOL, absence without leave, then the president will have to decide on her continuing appointment if need be, because she cannot be absent. Her office is very critical to the fight against poverty and we cannot have a secretary who is a fugitive from the law," he said.
On accusation by the militant groups that the administration was politically prosecuting their four leaders, Roque said, "we have to respect the judicial process. The same thing with Leila De Lima, you have pending cases in court, prove your innocence in court. That’s a separate branch of government."
The spokesman also rejected the possibility of Maza being given security as a member of the Cabinet.
"I don’t think we can give her security. But possibly, they can give her similar detention facility as what Leila De Lima has," he said.
"I do not know if they can be roommates with Leila De Lima. I don’t know if they will like each other, but similar treatment perhaps," Roque added.
De Lima has been detained in Camp Crame for over a year for facing drug charges. She was allegedly involved in the drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison when she was the secretary of justice during the previous administration.
De Lima, a staunch critic of Duterte, has denied the allegation, saying she is a victim of political persecution. Celerina Monte/DMS