The Batangas City Provincial Prosecutor junked the charges of arson and destruction of property filed against labor lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. and 26 other activists from Southern Tagalog for lack of probable cause, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) said.
The charges are in connection with the burning down of a Globe Telecom tower in Lemery, Batangas on August 2, 2008 allegedly by the New Peoples Army (NPA).
Third Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Esmeralda Andaya noted that the evidences presented by the complainant during the preliminary investigation “reveal serious and inexplicable discrepancies and are characterized by missing links and loose ends that refuse to tie up.”
The prosecutor further said that the mere enumeration of alleged aliases of the respondents is not sufficient to prove that they are NPA members and that they are responsible for the destruction of the Globe Telecom tower.
Daisy Arago, CTUHR executive director, said the dismissal of the charges is a ‘triumph over moves to weaken the labor and human rights movement in the country.’
Arago added the court decision should tell the military to stop using the courts and likewise stop getting false witnesses to harass and immobilize activists.
Saladero was arrested on October 2008 and detained at the Calapan City District Jail for over three months for another case involving multiple murder charges. Eventually, the court dismissed the case on technical grounds.
Barely a week after his release from detention, another murder case has been filed against him and 64 other leaders of people’s organizations. The case is now pending at the Rizal Regional Trial Court.(Bulatlat.com)