5. Mechanical insertion
This is usually done by simply putting in the name of someone who is not involved in a crime or is not there in the first place, Olalia said.
There is also another pattern because most of those charged are members of Karapatan, Bayan, ACT, KMU, Piston, Gabriela and Courage, at least according to the reported ones, the lawyer added.
“This is no different from what has been happening during the time of GMA [Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] when the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya was being implemented” and while the practice of putting activists in the orders of battle of the Army may have apparently gone down, “the legal hocus pocus is on an upward swing,” Olalia said.
Olalia credits the decrease in the enforced disappearance cases and other human rights violations to the strong campaign of human rights and people’s organizations and the local and international pressure this generated.
Charges to be filed
Olalia and Colmenares said the NUPL would be filing charges against judges and prosecutors and initiate disbarment charges against lawyers who are part of the “conspiracy” against activists.
But Olalia pointed out that the trumped up charges and the “bounty system” of the Departments of National Defense and Interior and Local Government are a “threat to human rights in the country.”
Olalia was referring to the P466.88 million ($11.38 million) reward for the capture of alleged 235 communist leaders through Joint Order No. 14-2012 of the Department of National Defense and Department of Interior and Local Government (DND-DILG).
Olalia said the “bounty system” or the setting up of reward money for the capture of suspected ranking officials of the underground revolutionary movement presents not only “an opportunity to abuse the rights of victims but also a money-making venture” for Army and police officials.
What is more dangerous is the fact that the DND and the DILG has drawn up a list of more than 200 persons and disclosed only five names – former priest Frank Fernandez, suspected leader of the CPP in Negros island, Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Alan Jazmines and Leoncio Pitao, all ranking cadres of the CPP – while the rest has been kept secret.
This has in fact resulted to several cases of abuse already like the capture of Rolando Panesa, a security guard with five government-issued identification cards. He was arrested because authorities said he had the same mole as that of a top-ranking Communist official who had a P5.6 million bounty on his head, Olalia said.
In Oriental Negros, Oligario Sevas was nabbed because he was mistaken to be Filemon Mendres, a ranking CPP official in Negros island whose arrest also carried a reward.
But why file charges against those working in the legal arena?
Olalia said the reasons are so obvious.
“They want to discourage people with alternative viewpoints about our society, those who see things differently and believe that a better world is possible,” he said.
Faced with the possibility of a murder charge against them, Tuayon and his colleagues, however, are unfazed.
“If you can’t run after the NPA then don’t file charges against us,” Tuayon dared Col. Oscar Lactao, commander of the Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Minoyan village, Murcia town, Negros Occidental.
“I am already 65 and yet they still accuse me of carrying a firearm,” said Patigas, a known activist in the northern Negros city of Escalante for more than two decades and is running for councilor in this year’s elections under the Makabayan coalition.
“In the past, what the Army spokesman usually do is to attack me almost every week on the radio, accusing me and (Caña) of being at encounter sites, now they want to really include me in the case,” Patigas said.
Singson, on the other hand, said she finds it strange that she had been visiting Zarah Alvarez, who is also accused in the Polenzo case and is now detained at the Cadiz City Jail, but was hardly informed by the prosecutor or the court that she was named in the affidavit of Sanchez.
While the affidavit was made in 2010 and was the basis for the charges against the original set of suspects in 2011, it was only in late December 2012 that Tuayon and company found out that their names were included after the affidavit was offered as proof in the motion to transfer venue filed by City Prosecutor Gwendolyn Jimenea-Chiu.
It was the same document attached by Chiu in opposing the motion to quash the information filed by Aniceta Rojo, the mother-in-law of Tuayon who is also accused in the Polenzo case.
Dajao, a department head at the Bata National High School, scored the inclusion of his name and presented bio-metric proof based on their school records that he was either on campus or in the city when the encounter happened in 2010.
“These are all lies,” he said.
“We see a suspicious pattern,” Caña said as he recalled the case of Romulo Bitoon, Makabayan coordinator, who was also charged and arrested for arson in 2010.
“It usually happens when the elections approaches, they want to cripple progressive partylist groups and alternative political parties,” he added but vowed that “this will not silence us or cow us into submission.”
“Fighting for wages and security of tenure is not a murderous act,” Evidente said as he called on prosecutors to observe due process “because if we will be included in this case, they should know that we are based in Bacolod, our offices are open, we are not in hiding and we are working aboveground.”
He also appealed to the Church and the public to condemn the fabrication of charges because this would affect not only the activists but everyone as well.
“It is an honor to be an activist; we are working for change, true change that is not colored yellow, we are against exploitation and oppression yet this government, like the one before it, continues to hunt us down,” Evidente added.