Detained Activists Freed, Mull Counter Charges

Counter charges

Saladero said they will file counter charges against the arresting officers.

He said all of them were deprived of their rights provided for in the Miranda doctrine. He added that all of them were served with defective warrants of arrest containing misspelled names and incorrect addresses.

Saladero recalled that it took five to six hours after his arrest before he was accorded his right to a phone call. He was arrested on October 23, 2008 from his home in Antipolo City, Rizal.

He added that the police took away his laptop, the central processing unit of his computer and their family album. “Pagnanakaw na ang kanilang ginawa.” (What they did was already looting.)

Saladero asserted, “Dapat matanim sa isip ng mga pulis na may karapatan din ang mga inaaresto. At ang paglabag sa karapatang iyan ay may kaukulang parusa.” (The police should inculcate in their minds that suspects have rights, too. And a violation of any of those rights has a corresponding punishment.)

Meanwhile, Pastores said they will consider filing administrative charges against the public prosecutors. “They did not study the case. There were many irregularities such as in the conduct of preliminary investigation.”

Pastores said the counter charges will teach the prosecutors a lesson.

(L-R) Southern Tagalog activists Crispin Zapanta, Nestor San Jose, Rogelio Galit and Emmanuel Dioneda raise their fists while calling for an end to political persecution.(Photo by R. Olea)

Abolish IALAG

Saladero said further, “Nakita natin kung paano gamitin ng rehimeng Arroyo ang ligal na proseso para sa iligal na bagay. Nakita natin ang kabulukan ng sistema na matagal na naming sinasabi.” (We witnessed how the Arroyo regime utilized the legal process for illegal purposes. We witnessed the rottenness of the system that we have long been exposing.)

Speaking at the press conference, Cherry Clemente, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) secretary general, called anew for the abolition of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG). Created by virtue of Executive Order 493, which was issued on January 17, 2006, the IALAG is headed by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales. The task of the IALAG, said Clemente, is to legally harass and file cases against leaders and members of mass organizations.

Clemente said the cases filed against the Batasan 6, Tagaytay 5 and Southern Tagalog 72 are the handiwork of the IALAG. In 2006, rebellion charges were filed against party-list representatives Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño, Joel Virador, Liza Maza, Rafael Mariano and the late Crispin Beltran; they were collectively called the Batasan 6. The Supreme Court ordered the dismissal of the cases against the Batasan 6, in June 2007, for lack of probable cause and due process. The High Court castigated Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales for lack of impartiality, stating that there was “obvious involvement of political considerations…” in the filing of cases against the Batasan 6.

The Tagaytay 5 are peasant organizers Axel Pinpin, Riel Custodio and Aristides Sarmiento, and cockfighting aficionados Enrico Ybañez and Michael Masayes. They were also charged with rebellion in 2006 and were released from detention in August last year after the court deemed that the arrest and detention of the five was illegal.

“Buwagin ang grupong ito,” (Abolish this group.) Clemente said. She added, “Buksan ang mga pinto ng kulungan para palayain ang iba pang detinidong pulitikal.” (Open the gates of prison and free all political prisoners.

More determined

All seven newly-released detainees expressed determination to continue their political activities.

Saladero said he will get back to work immediately. Their office, the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), handles 700 labor cases.

Labor organizer Seminiano said, “Hindi kami natatakot. Patuloy namin ipaglalaban ang aming karapatang mag-organisa ng mga manggagawa.” (We are not afraid. We will continue to fight for our right to organize our fellow workers.)

Dionida said the Filipino people must remain vigilant. “Desperado ang rehimeng ito na supilin ang mamamayan.” (This regime is desperate in suppressing the people.)

San Jose said, “Kahit anong patakaran ni Gloria, Oplan Bantay Laya o IALAG, hindi kayang pigilin ang paglaban ng mamamayan. Lalo pa ngayon sa pagbulusok ng ekonomiya, lalong lalakas ang paglaban ng mamamayan.” (Whatever policy Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo implements, whether its Operation Freedom Watch or IALAG, the government could never stop the struggle of the people.)

“Magpupursigi pa kaming lalo,” (We will persevere even more.) San Jose said.(

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