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Politics are the issue not law

DAVAO (Mabuhay) : Nancy Catamco, a member of the Philippine congress, broke her silence in the face of accusations made by a colleague of the murdered Father Fausto Tentorio that she provided assistance for two prime suspects in the case, Jimmy and Robert Ato.

Father Germenia, a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (pime) and former colleague of Father Tentorio, told the committee that those suspected of the murder of Father Tentorio continue to be under the protective care of Catamco, UCAN reported

“From my questions to people close to Congresswoman Catamco, yes, they are still in her custody,” Father Germenia said, explaining that they are employed as caretakers at a property that is owned by Catamco.

Father Tentorio was murdered outside his house in Akran on 17 October 2011.

After initially failing to respond to the accusation, Catamco later said that the family of the suspects, who live in her district, sought her help after the two men were accused of the murder.

Catamco admitted that she helped the Ato brothers to obtain counsel, asking a local law firm to represent them pro bono.

“The Ato brothers obviously could not afford to hire the legal services of a law firm that could defend them in court. So I did ask the help of some lawyers in Kidapawan City to provide legal services, pro bono, to the Ato brothers as they face the accusations against them. If this is wrong, then everything in this world is wrong,” she said.

“They remain innocent... They are not fugitives, for there is no warrant of arrest issued against them,” Catamco said in a statement.

“(They) are entitled under the law to be represented by counsel during the whole proceedings of the criminal investigation,” she said, adding, “the state is duty-bound to provide the services of a counsel for the accused if they cannot afford one.”

However, she denied that the two suspects were in her protective custody. “They are living with their families in Arakan… They are not under my custody. There is no legal reason that I can take custody of them.”

She accused Father Geremia of grandstanding during the committee hearing in congress.

“He has spent too much time on muddling up the issue. I could only surmise that he resorted to incendiary rhetoric because he is getting impatient,” Catamco said.

Father Geremia responded to her comments saying that he hoped Catamco would work to see that the murder case is fully investigated.

“I hope she will also help expedite the resolution of the case, give Father justice, just as how she helped the suspects,” the priest said.

 

Father Geremia did not accuse Catamco of breaking the law, but he was delving into the politics involved in asking a legal firm to take on the case of the suspected murderers on a pro bono basis, something that she does not do for every suspect in the area.