The chief legal counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-May First Movement) was arrested yesterday around 1 p.m. by state agents.
Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. was arrested in his residence in Antipolo City by combined police and military elements led by the Antipolo Police and Military Intelligence Group 4A of the Intelligence Services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (Isafp).
He was arrested based on charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder allegedly committed in the province of Mindoro. The KMU lamented that Philippine National Police Southern Luzon Command (SolCom) Chief Gen. Ricardo Padilla denies until now the details of his charges.
The KMU condemned the Gestapo-like arrest of Saladero.
In an advisory sent last night by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), Saladero’s wife went home around 4 p.m. yesterday to meet her husband. When she arrived, however, the gates and doors were open. The floor had stains and mud, the desktop computer and laptop were missing, their things were in disarray. Saladero was not there.
It was only at around 9 p.m. that Saladero was able to communicate with his wife. He said he was taken to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna.
Saladero has been transferred to Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro this morning for a hearing on his case.
According to KMU, at around 7 a.m. today, the police also took his vehicle a red Toyota Corolla, which was escorted by a government vehicle with plate number SG2-602.
Saladero is also charged, along with 26 other leaders and members of people’s organizations in Southern Tagalog, with arson, destruction of property and conspiracy to commit rebellion in relation to the burning down of a Globe cell site in Lemery, Batangas on August 2.
KMU Chairperson Elmer Labog dismissed the charges against Saladero as ‘fabricated cases concocted by the police and military to persecute leaders of the progressive movement.’
A San Beda law graduate, Saladero was among the top 20 when he took the bar examinations in 1984; he was also a law professor at the Lyceum and the Dominican College.
Today, Saladero provides free legal services for workers, handling more than 700 labor cases. He also writes a column for Pinoy Weekly where he discusses the rights of workers.
The CTUHR said Saladero faces serious threats to his life and security.
Saladero, 49, has diabetes and heart ailment. He experienced two strokes already, said the CTUHR.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyers also slammed the abduction and illegal arrest of Saladero.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), the International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL), Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), SENTRA and the Public Interest Legal Center (PILC) said in a statement that the arrest of Saladero is ‘a violation of his right to due process considering that he was never informed about the complaint and was not able to defend himself before a warrant of arrest was issued.’
The lawyers groups deemed it is also ‘an attack against the legal profession’ since Atty. Saladero was harassed for the exercise of his profession. “It is a blow to the right to counsel and access to justice of many workers and human rights victims whose cases Atty. Saladero is handling,” they said.
The lawyers added, “Atty. Saladero is not a member of the New People’s Army and is not a fugitive. He has been openly litigating in courts and has never been involved in any case of arson to blow up Globe cellsites.”
In a statement, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Representative Rafael Mariano criticized the Arroyo government for ‘exploiting the courts and the justice system to persecute activists and leaders of progressive people’s organizations.’
“Under Arroyo’s rule, blind justice prevails. The Arroyo government has adopted the dirty tactic of filing fictitious charges against progressive individuals who are actively exposing and opposing corruption and anti-people policies. The main targets of political persecution through legal offensives are progressive labor and peasant leaders,” said Mariano.
Human rights lawyers said the raiding team members are ‘criminally liable’ for qualified theft. They will file criminal and administrative cases against public officials who facilitated the illegal arrest and harassment case against Atty. Saladero and the false witnesses who committed perjury in their affidavits.
The lawyers also called on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines to immediately call for the release of Saladero and condemn ‘this attack on the legal profession.’(Bulatlat.com)