“It is frightening to think that the whole machinery of the government is being used for political ends,” Lozada said in Filipino. “Today, it is being used freely by the government to pressure those who are against their brand of politics. This is what I observed,” he said. “Your hair would fall just by thinking about it.”
Even if the Arroyo administration has the power, the money and influence, Lozada added, it does not have the truth. “If that is all that we have, that is sufficient for me.”
“I am determined to pursue what we are fighting for. Frankly speaking, I am very angry. But I would channel my anger the right way,” Lozada said as he concluded his speech.
Labor lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. related his ordeal during his arrest and detention and the continuing threats he and other leaders of people’s organizations in Southern Tagalog are facing.
Remigio Saladero Jr., a labor lawyer and a columnist of Pinoy Weekly, was arrested and detained in October last year based on what he called as “baseless charges,” among them that he had participated in an ambush by communist guerrillas.
In this Bulatlat.com video, he recalls the harrowing experience.
Saladero was among the 72 activists who were charged with multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder in connection with a raid by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Calapan City, Mindoro Oriental, in March 2006. He was the first to be arrested among the 72 respondents on Oct. 23, 2008. The six other accused were detained at the Calapan City District Jail. Just this February, Judge Manuel C. Luna Jr. of Branch 39 of the Calapan City Regional Trial Court dismissed the case on technical grounds.
Saladero said that among the accused were a polio victim and a diabetic patient who takes insulin twice a day. “How could they bear arms and ambush fully armed elements of the Philippine National Police with their condition?” he asked during the forum.
Barely a week after their release from detention, Saladero said, he was informed by a relative that another murder case had been filed against him and 61 other activists in Southern Tagalog. This time, the case involved the killing in July 2008 of a member of the Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) in Rizal, allegedly by members of the NPA.
Saladero was also among the 27 Southern Tagalog activists who were charged with arson and destruction of property in connection with the burning of a Globe tower in Lemery, Batangas, on Aug. 2, 2008, allegedly by the NPA. The case was recently dismissed for lack of probable cause.
Saladero said that there had been a subversion of the legal process. The Mindoro case, he said, did not go through the preliminary investigation and the warrants of arrest bore erroneous names and addresses.
“One case after another, the same modus operandi of using aliases in the warrant, writing the wrong address so that we could not assert our rights and defend ourselves in legally,” he said.
In this Bulatlat.com video, Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the whistleblower in the NBN-ZTE scam, narrates the harassment he endured after exposing the scandal.
Worse, Saladero said, the charges of murder, frustrated murder and arson are nonbailable offenses.
“What they did to us is terrible,” he said.
“Pity my clients who are workers and peasants because there were so many pleadings that I was not able to write, many appeals that I was not able to file because of my arrest and detention,” he said. “Others lost hope because, according to them, if even our lawyer was detained, what would happen to us?”
Saladero said that leaders of people’s organizations have been compelled to lay low due to threats of arrest and detention.
The labor lawyer said that forums provide them venues to ventilate their outrage. “These forums are therapeutic. Through these, we could somehow get back at them.”