“As it stands now, we find Eduardo Serrano not ‘judicially charged’ under any resolution, information or amended information.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – After 11 years in detention, a Quezon City court ordered the immediate release of Eduardo Serrano, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), calling his incarceration “an outright mockery” of the Constitution.
In a court order issued today, Oct. 22, Judge Marilou Runes-Tamang of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 98, ruled that political prisoner Serrano is not the accused Rogelio Villanueva, whom the military claims is a ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
However, Serrano still faces other cases before three other branches of the Quezon City RTC: multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges at Branch 100, multiple frustrated murder at Branch 215, and kidnapping at Branch 97.
Serrano’s lawyer Ameh Sato told Bulatlat.com that the other charges were also based on warrants for a Rogelio Villanueva.
“As it stands now, we find Serrano not ‘judicially charged’ under any resolution, information or amended information… He was not also validly arrested as there was no warrant of arrest or alias warrant against Eduardo Serrano. Clearly, Serrano was not restrained of his liberty under process issued by a court,” Tamang’s decision read.
Tamang read portions of her ruling in court today.
Serrano was arrested on May 2, 2004 based on warrants against a certain Rogelio Villanueva.
Tamang found the insertion of Serrano’s name in the commitment order issued by a Mindoro court as “unjustified.” His name was only included after Serrano’s arrest “without the benefit of any preliminary investigation is too pathetic.”
“It is an outright mockery of the basic human rights on due process of law which is enshrined in our Constitution,” the resolution said.
“We hope that this positive decision serves as precedent to other cases of Serrano, even to other political prisoners who were charged of crimes based on different names ,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Like Serrano, Palabay said another political prisoner, Tirso Alcantara, is facing 41 charges even when the information used in these cases did not even cite his direct participation nor mentioned his name in affidavits of witnesses.
Another political prisoner, Miradel Torres, who was four months pregnant when she was arrested, was also not named in the charges against her.
Sato said they will bring the court order before other courts where Serrano is also facing charges.
While she has yet to further confer with Serrano, Sato added that the political prisoner may file charges against those behind the trumped-up case, such as malicious prosecution and perjury.
Serrano is one of the 17 NDFP consultants arrested and detained. Peace advocates deemed the arrests a violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig) and of the Hernandez political doctrine. Signed by the Government of the Philippines and the NDFP in 1995, Jasig provides immunity from arrest, detention and other forms of harassment to all those involved in the peace talks. The Hernandez political doctrine, meanwhile, prohibits the criminalization of political offenses.
Palabay found it “unforgiveable” that Serrano was deprived of his life for 11 years.