‘IALAG Abolition Not Enough; Drop Fabricated Charges Now!”

Detained peasant leader Randall Echanis today said President Macapagal-Arroyo’s so-called order abolishing the dreaded Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) is not enough and urging the President to drop all charges against its victims.

Reports said that the President has abolished the controversial IALAG that has been criticized by militant and cause-oriented groups for allegedly harassing their members with “fabricated” criminal charges.

The President signed the revoking Executive Order (EO) 808 on May 15. IALAG was formed in 2007. “IALAG has already accomplished its mandate,” EO 808 stated.

“Ms Arroyo’s reported abolition of the dreaded IALAG is only good for show and will be useless unless her government drops all the false and malicious charges it slapped against activists,” says Echanis, deputy secretary general of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, in a statement released to media on “Independence Day.”

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, chairman of the Presidential Human Rights Committee, noted that IALAG’s abolition was among the recommendations of Prof. Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Echanis was arrested in January 2008 while he was consulting with farmers in Negros based on
for his multiple murder case in Leyte, in which he was accused of involvement in a so-called purge of the communist party’s armed wing the New People’s Army in the 1980s.

His co-accused in the case includes Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and National Democratic Front chief political consultant Prof. Jose Ma. Sison. He is presently detained at the Manila City Jail.

Echanis called on the Supreme Court to act on his petition, maintain that he was “under military custody during the time when the alleged murders happened.”

“This demonstrates that this case is nothing but political persecution against me and a product of Ms Arroyo’s cabinet security cluster’s dirty imagination,” the detained peasant leader stressed.

He said that “from 1983 to 1984, I was detained under solitary confinement and held incommunicado in Camp Aguinaldo.”

“From 1984 to 1986, I was transferred to Camp Adduru, Regional Command 2 Stockade in Tuguegarao, Cagayan until my release in March 1986. For almost four years, I was under solitary confinement,” Echanis added.

The President created IALAG principally to “coordinate all national security cases” such as rebellion, sedition and related offenses, and “national interest cases that threaten national security.”

It was tasked “to provide effective and efficient handling and coordination of the investigative and prosecutorial aspects of the fight against threats to national security.”

But militant and human-rights groups have been calling for the abolition of IALAG since it was put up because their experience with it, according to them, shows the group to be a government tool to persecute members of left-leaning legal organizations with trumped-up charges and allegations they are members of the CPP-NPA-NDF. #

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