Surrender if you're innocent, Palace urges Liza Maza

By Azer Parrocha

July 31, 2018, 6:47 pm

MANILA -- Malacañang on Tuesday called on National Anti-Poverty Commissioner (NAPC) Liza Maza to surrender to authorities following an arrest warrant issued by a regional trial court.

Maza, former representative of Gabriela Women’s party, was recently issued with an arrest warrant from a Nueva Ecja court in connection with a murder complaint in 2006.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that arrest warrants are “lawfully issued” by regional trial courts and Maza should turn herself in if she is innocent.

”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,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

Roque said if Maza refuses to surrender, she will become a “fugitive” and urged her to “adhere to the rule of law in this country.”

He noted that although Maza has not yet been fired, President Rodrigo R. Duterte may have to decide his next move if she continues to be absent from work, including Cabinet meetings.

“She hasn’t been fired. But, because she is wanted, she may be 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,” Roque said.

“I don’t know if she is reporting, but she has to report, surrender physically to the Regional Trial Court because there is a warrant of arrest,” he added.

Roque, however, said he has not seen Maza even once during regular Cabinet meetings.

“Since I came on board, I’ve not seen her attend any Cabinet meeting,” Roque said.

Roque noted that the NAPC is “very critical” to the fight against poverty and noted that the government “cannot have a secretary who is a fugitive from the law.”

He also denied that the government is purposely persecuting former lawmakers, stressing that it had no power to issue warrants of arrests.

“She has to heed the warrant of arrest, not even the President can interfere in our judicial process. We have to respect the judicial process. The same thing with (Senator) Leila de Lima, you have pending cases in court, prove your innocence in court, that’s a separate branch of government,” Roque said.

Roque insisted that it was the task of the Executive to implement the law through its law enforcement agencies to make sure that these warrants of arrest are properly served.

“It’s a warrant of arrest issued by a court, not by the Executive branch; we don’t have the power to issue warrants of arrests,” he said. (PNA)