“While we celebrate her release, we continue to mount appeals for the immediate release of all political prisoners, especially the sick, women and the elderly.”
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Women’s rights defender Rossana Cabusao and labor activist Isidro de Lima walked free today, June 15, after a Bacoor Regional Trial Court dismissed the illegal possession of explosives charge against them.
“While we celebrate her release, we continue to mount appeals for the immediate release of all political prisoners, especially the sick, women and the elderly,” Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Emmi de Jesus said.
“Our hopes remain high that President-elect Rodrigo Duterte will make good on his promise to release all political prisoners as a goodwill measure for the resumption of peace negotiations,” she added.
Cabusao and De Lima were released from their detention in Camp Bagong Diwa, Taguig City.
Cabusao was the former public information Officer and international officer of women’s group Gabriela. She was arrested along with her husband, Adelberto Silva, peace consultant to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and their companion De Lima on June 1, 2015 in their residence in Bacoor, Cavite.
Lawyer Minerva Lopez who helped facilitate their release said De Lima had to wait for another two hours following Cabusao’s release as authorities from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology had to check if he has other pending cases.
Silva remains in detention, as he faces two other charges, including multiple murder in relation to the alleged Leyte mass grave, his counsel Carlos Montemayor of the Public Interest Law Center told Bulatlat in a text message.
Silva is supposedly protected from surveillance or arrests as he is covered by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (Jasig), with documentation of identification under the presumed name “Percival Rojo.”
Kilusang Mayo Uno chairperson Elmer Labog said they are looking forward to the release of Silva and other political prisoners.
“Its junking is long overdue, but we are still very, very glad over our comrades’ impending release,” Labog said.
Went beyond ‘plain view’
In his order dated June 2, Judge Matias Garcia II of the Bacoor Regional Trial Court Branch 19 ruled in favor of the omnibus motion of three accused. Montemayor said they filed the motion shortly after the arrest last year, asking the court to quash the information, declare the allegedly seized explosives as inadmissible, and dismiss the charges.
Their arresting officers allegedly seized three rocket propelled grenades in the rooms of the couple’s residence.
The judge said the arresting team’s “only reason” was to serve the warrant of arrest against Silva. But they arrested Cabusao and De Lima when they purportedly found the explosives in “plain view.” This claim by the arresting officers was not supported by their affidavit of arrest, which they themselves executed, the decision read.
“The search should have been made within the immediate vicinity. In this case, the arresting team went beyond. They went and searched from room to room in the house of the accused as previously discussed,” the court decision read.
Citing the Constitution, Garcia said that evidence obtained and confiscated through unreasonable search and seizure “is tainted and should be excluded for being the proverbial fruit of a poisonous tree.”