One of 3 Remaining Morong 43 Detainees Made to Suffer For Another Person’s Crime

“Why do they keep on insisting that my husband Edwin is the Edwin Bustamante in the charge sheets? My husband is not a criminal,” Lyn Dematera said, in reaction to the continuing detention of her husband, one of the Morong 43.


MANILA — Edwin Dematera turned 39 years old today. His only birthday wish is to be free and be reunited with his family. This has been frustrated by another attempt of authorities to prolong his detention.

Dematera is one of the three remaining male health workers among the Morong 43 who are still being detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. The Morong 43 refers to the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6, 2010 in Morong, Rizal. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were branded as members of the New People’s Army, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). On Dec. 17, 33 of the Morong 43 were released upon the dismissal of charges against them by local courts. Two were subsequently released December 28. The other five have remained under military custody at Camp Capinpin.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) showed a list of so-called pending charges against Dematera and four other detainees. Included in the list are the two who were released December 28 but are supposedly facing charges of violating the anti-bouncing check law and illegal possession of drugs. The DOJ claimed that Dematera is facing rape charges before a Las Piñas court.

Dematera’s lawyers obtained records of the said rape case. They insisted that Dematera is not the same Edwin Bustamante accused in the criminal case. On Feb. 8, Dematera’s wife Lyn and his lawyers were told that another criminal case, this time a robbery case, was filed against Dematera. Again, the suspect’s name is Edwin Bustamante.

“Why do they keep on insisting that my husband Edwin is the Edwin Bustamante in the charge sheets? My husband is not a criminal,” Lyn told in an interview. Dematera is being accused of stealing a Nokia 8210 cellphone, cash amounting to P150 ($3.40) and a silver necklace. The incident allegedly happened in May 2008.

Back home in Juban, Sorsogon, Dematera’s children Bito, 4 and Bea, 2 have been waiting for their father for more than a year. They had hoped for their father’s return last Christmas but Lyn travelled back to Sorsogon alone.

In an affidavit filed before the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court Branch 255, Dematera categorically denied he is the accused in the said case. Dematera argued that the only similarity between him and the said accused is their first name and it just happened that his middle name “Bustamante” is the last name of the said accused.

“I would like to categorically state with utmost truthfulness that I have never committed any crime in my life. I am not the ‘Edwin Bustamante’ accused in Criminal Case No. 08-0459. All factual matters gathered from my birth certificate and from the records in Criminal Case No. 08-0459 clearly and convincingly show that I am not the person accused in the said case,” he said.

Dematera also said that while the accused is a resident of Basa Compound II, Zapote, Las Pi?as City, he has been a permanent resident of Juban, Sorsogon since birth. Attached in his affidavit is a copy of his birth certificate issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar of Juban, Sorsogon.

Dematera said the only time he had been to Metro Manila was when he attended the First Responders’ Training in Morong, Rizal in February last year and when he was detained at the Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. He added that the only time he set foot on Las Piñas was when he attended a hearing on January 18 on the rape case against Bustamante.

“My continued detention in the Metro Manila District Jail merely because there is a pending criminal case against a certain ‘Edwin Bustamante,’ whose full name and other personal circumstances are clearly different from mine, is unjust and indubitably gravely violates my constitutional rights,” Dematera said.

“It’s the second time he would spend his birthday in jail,” Lyn said. “Why can’t the authorities find and arrest the real Edwin Bustamante?” (

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