“How tragic to have Andrea arrested, detained, and have lost a baby daughter over false, trumped up, malicious charges, which the Pasig Court correctly struck down with prejudice.” – National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A Pasig Regional Trial Court dismissed on July 9 the kidnapping and murder charges against political detainee Andrea Rosal.
Judge Toribio Ilao Jr. of the Pasig RTC Branch 266 ruled: “The court finds that there is no allegation whatsoever that accused Andrea Rosal participated in the abduction and murder of the victims. Neither is there an asseveration that she ordered the kidnapping and killing.”
Although the Pasig court had ordered Rosal’s release, she remains detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, awaiting the decision of the Mauban Regional Trial Court in Quezon on her motion to dismiss a murder case against her.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) welcomed the decision “with measured vindication.”
“How tragic to have Andrea arrested, detained, and have lost a baby daughter over false, trumped up, malicious charges, which the Pasig Court correctly struck down with prejudice,” the NUPL said. The statement said they “await the same resolution for dismissal of murder charges in a Mauban, Quezon court.”
One of Rosal’s counsels, Maria Kristina Conti of the NUPL, said Rosal has been deprived of four months of her life while in detention due to the false charges.
Rosal, daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal, was seven months pregnant when arrested on March 27. On May 17, she gave birth to baby girl Diona Andrea who died the following day due to lack of oxygen in the blood.
Rosal and human rights advocates blamed the government for baby Diona’s death, saying Rosal had been deprived of required medical attention and she suffered from the poor jail condition especially during the last months of her pregnancy.
The Pasig judge noted that the prosecutors made an error or “abused its discretion” in filing the criminal cases against Rosal.
“In the case at bar, the issue is whether or not the prosecution committed a manifest error or gravely abused its discretion in finding probable cause against accused Andrea Rosal,” Ilao’s resolution read. “The Court finds that it did.”
The court struck down the testimonial evidence against Rosal, saying: “Although accused Andrea Rosal was named by Marissa Eclavea as among her husband’s killers, it clearly shows from her (sworn statement) that she has no personal knowledge of the crime.”
The court order added: “As correctly pointed out by the accused, her name was only mentioned by Erwin Rosales when the latter stated that he trained with the accused. Moreover, it appears from Rosales’ (sworn statement) that the NPA training occurred about five years prior to the alleged kidnapping with murder.”
Rosales is the same witness presented against security guard Rolly Panesa, whom the military claimed is Benjamin Mendoza, an alleged high-ranking official of the CPP in Southern Tagalog. The Court of Appeals resolved that it was a case of mistaken identity, and Panesa had been released.
In a previous Bulatlat.com report, human rights group Karapatan assailed that Rosal’s detention is “based on false charges and on the testimony of a professional witness who goes to court peddling lies being fed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines to justify the detention of suspected enemies of the state.”
Conti said, “In the same vein, the (Quezon murder) charge is malicious.”
Conti emphasized that these charges, including those that were dismissed, were filed to merely persecute Rosal. She added that similar to the cases dismissed by the Pasig court, the murder charge in Mauban “merely mentioned Rosal’s name and was never explicitly pointed out as directly involved in the said crime.”
“We are confident that the Mauban Court will likewise be fair and just and find no merit to proceed in the case against Andrea based on trumped up information,” she told Bulatlat.com.
The NUPL said they would continue to provide assistance to Rosal “in thwarting her persecution and all others similarly victimized as we exhaust all legal means to seek accountability from all those who perpetuate rank injustice especially against the lowly and the underdog.”