Cabillas said most of the cases filed against the political prisoners have no merit at all, citing as examples the cases of Randall Echanis, Elizabeth Principe, and the so-called Tagaytay 5 who had been released.
“Their charges are fabricated,” said Cabillas. “The Arroyo government just wanted the political prisoners to languish in jail for as long as possible.”
The rebellion charges against the so-called Batasan 6 or the party-list representatives of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela in 2006, the Southern Tagalog 72, the Southern Tagalog 27, the Rizal murder charges against Southern Tagalog activists and the murder charges against Pastor Berlin Guerrero were all dismissed for lack of merit.
Political prisoner Donald Navarro has been detained at San Fernando, Pampanga for almost six years now. Charged with illegal possession of firearms, he could not post bail amounting to P80,000 ($1,722).
Trumped-up Charges for Counterinsurgency
Cabillas deemed that the filing of trumped-up charges against activists and critics is part of the Arroyo government’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).
Although the number of cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances is decreasing due to international and local protests, Cabillas noted that the filing of criminal cases against activists is intensifying. Political prisoners are being tagged as NPA’s and communist-“terrorist,” said Cabillas.
Selda’s Fr. Diony Cabillas(Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea / bulatlat.com)
Even with the abolition of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), cases against activists continue. Formed in 2006 through Executive Order (EO) No. 493, the IALAG aimed to address specific offenses against national security such as rebellion, sedition and related actions. It was composed of representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department National Defense (DND), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).
On May 15, 2009, the IALAG was abolished. Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said the agency’s dismantling was their response to the recommendation of Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings. In his follow-up report to the United Nations Human Rights Council dated April 29, 2009, Alston said the central purpose of IALAG remains to prosecute and punish members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its purported front groups as enemies of the state, many of whom will not be reachable by legal processes.
But “The abolition of IALAG has had no effect,” Cabillas said. The AFP, PNP, DND continue to connive with the DOJ in arresting and detaining activists by filing criminal cases against them, thus the existence of political prisoners. (Bulatlat.com)