MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang urged National Anti-Poverty Commission head Liza Maza to surrender to authorities after a regional trial court issued warrants of arrest against her and 3 others.
“I ask her to surrender. Face the charges against her. Prove her innocence,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Tuesday, July 31, during a Palace press briefing.
“We expect Cabinet members to adhere to the rule of law in this country,” he added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has so far issued no directives about her status as NAPC lead convenor and Cabinet member.
“She hasn’t been fired but because she is wanted. She may become a fugitive if she doesn’t surrender,” said Roque.
But the spokesman said he expected Duterte to decide on the NAPC leadership soon.
“The President will have to decide on her continuing appointment if need be. She cannot be absent because her office is critical to the fight against poverty,” said Duterte’s spokesman.
Maza has supposedly not asked Malacañang for any assistance. Roque noted, however, that he has not seen Maza is any Cabinet meeting since he assumed the role of presidential spokesman.
Until Maza is fired by Duterte, Roque said it can be assumed that she continued to have his trust and confidence.
Roque said the NAPC chief has “no reason to worry” as the country’s courts “can be relied upon to be impartial.”
The others ordered arrested, leftist leaders like Maza, should also surrender to authorities, said Malacañang. Aside from Maza, the Philippine National Police has launched a manhunt for Satur Ocampo (former Bayan Muna representative), Teddy Casiño (former Bayan Muna representative), and Rafael Mariano (former agrarian reform secretary under the Duterte administration and ex-Anakpawis representative).
“If they are innocent then they should in fact surrender, recognize the jurisdiction of the court and prove their innocence in court. That’s what we expect of everyone,” said Roque.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.