Newly Freed Lawyer, Activists Slapped Anew With Murder Raps

Barely a week after labor lawyer Remigio Saladero, Jr. and five other activists from Southern Tagalog were released from prison, another murder case has been filed against them.


Barely a week after labor lawyer Remigio Saladero, Jr. and six other activists from Southern Tagalog were released from prison, another murder case has been filed against them.

Saladero, chief legal counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-May First Movement); Emmanuel Dionida, executive director of Labor Education Advocacy Development Response Services (LEADERS); Rogelio Galit, spokesperson of the Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka or Farmers’ Federation in Cavite); Nestor San Jose, leader of the Southern Tagalog Transport Sector Organization (Starter); Crispin Zapanta, member of Bayan Muna (People First); Arnaldo Seminiano, organizer of the Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa (IBM or Light and Unity of Workers); and Leonardo Arceta, a labor organizer, were released Feb. 5 after Judge Manuel C. Luna, Jr. of Branch 39 of the Calapan City Regional Trial Court quashed the amended information in the multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder charges against the seven activists.

The seven were among the 72 respondents to the charges in connection with the March 3, 2006 ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) against policemen in Calapan City. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

In a statement, Maricel, Saladero’s wife and spokesperson of Free Atty. Saladero et al Coalition said that a friend of his husband informed them about another murder case, this time filed in Rodriguez, Rizal province, against the labor lawyer and four other activists.

“We haven’t thanked yet those who supported us in the campaign for his release and here is another case,” Maricel lamented.

New murder case

The case involved the killing of Ricky Garmino, 37 and a member of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) in Rizal, allegedly by elements of the Narciso Antazo Aramil Command of the NPA on July 29, 2008.

Except for Seminiano of IBM-KMU, the other Mindoro detainees such as San Jose, Galit, Zapanta and Dioneda, and the rest of 72 Southern Tagalog activists were implicated in the new Rizal murder case.

In a sworn statement dated July 30, 2008, Adelia Garmino, victim’s wife and complainant alleged that she saw her husband tied and being taken outside their house away by more or less 30 men in soldier’s uniform and some were in civilian clothes. While her husband was struggling he was shot by men whom she alleged as NPA.

In a separate statement, a certain Braulio Tambong y Bustamante said that on Aug.1, 2008, men and women who introduced themselves as soldiers went inside the yard and killed Garmino. Bustamante said Garmino always mentioned the names of Saladero and other Southern Tagalog activists during their conversations.

Ronnie Garmino, the victim’s brother, claimed that the victim was visited thrice by some elements of the NPA and that he was able to remember almost all of their faces.

Ronnie narrated that around 1 p.m. of July 29, he saw his brother who was tied up and being carried to a stream where he was hiding. He claimed further that the two men carrying his brother were San Jose and Romie Aguilar, and the one who shot Ricky at his left shoulder was Julio Atienza.

Aguilar is a leader of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Rizal who is now in a wheelchair due to diabetes.

According to Ronnie, there were about 20 NPA rebels who accompanied Atienza in killing his brother. He identified the 70 names and their alleged aliases, in the same order as they were written in the information for the Mindoro multiple murder and frustrated cases. The case is filed at the Rizal Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Pasig City.

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