By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace negotiations was released from prison July 25 after more than three years of detention.
A statement sent by Katungod-Sinirangang Bisaya (Katungod-SB) said Jaime Soledad was released from the Leyte Provincial Jail after exactly 40 months of detention.
Soledad was arrested on March 25, 2008 on multiple murder charges in relation to the alleged mass graves in Inopacan, Leyte. Both judges in the local courts of Hilongos and Manila granted the motion filed by the prosecutors to drop Soledad as one of the accused in the complaint.
Lawyer Kathrina Castillo of Katungod-SB said the ongoing peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP prompted the filing of the motion. In the joint communiqué during the resumption of peace talks in February, the GPH committed itself to work for the release of detained NDFP consultants in compliance with the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig).
The NDFP said sixteen other NDFP consultants and staff remain in jail for trumped up charges.
Another activist arrested
Meanwhile, the arrest of activists continues under the Aquino administration.
Iver Larit, 41, member of the United Negros Drivers and Operators Center (UNDOC), was arrested July 7 in Mansilingan village, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental by operatives of the Philippine National Police Station 7 led by Police Insp. Levy G. Pangue, and the 303rd Infantry Brigade led by Civilian Military Officer Lt. Col. Isabelo delos Reyes.
According to the urgent action alert sent by Karapatan, the arresting team presented a warrant for a certain Ricky Larit issued by Judge Moises Nifras on August 8, 2006 based on a charge of robbery-in-band.
Larit insisted he is not the person in the warrant but the authorities took him any way and brought him to a police station. The next morning, Larit was brought to San Carlos City, Negros Occidental and presented before the Regional Trial Court branch 59, where he was charged with robbery-in-band with no bail recommended.
The clerk of court asked him to sign the warrant of arrest in the name of Ricky Larit, which he refused to do. Judge Catherine Go issued a commitment order, and set his arraignment on August 10. He is now detained at the Escalante City Jail.