“Prosecutor has said no basis to hold them, why should police act on the contrary?”
By ADAM ANG and RONALYN V. OLEA
Meycauayan City Prosecutor Frederick Malapit ordered the release of 19 detained NutriAsia workers, supporters and journalists.
Paul Heherson Balite, one of the lawyers of the accused, provided a copy of the resolutions to the media.
In separate resolutions dated July 31, Malapit ordered the jail warden of the Meycauayan Police Station to free the 14 workers and supporters and five journalists arrested during the July 30 dispersal outside the NutriAsia factory. The charge of physical injuries filed against the accused had been dismissed. As to the charges of alarms, scandal and illegal assembly, the prosecutor ordered further investigation.
Speaking to reporters, Balite said the resolutions prove that the case is weak. He added that the affidavits of the detainees show they are not liable to any of the violations hurled against them.
Instead of implementing the order, the Meycauayan police demanded from lawyers a clearance from the provincial prosecutor. The police wants to know if there are other pending cases filed against the 19 detainees before they release the detainees.
Sought for opinion, human rights lawyer Kristina Conti vehemently disagreed with the procedural requirement of further clearances for the 19 detainees. “It defeats the essence of the release order and ‘further investigation.’
Conti explained that under the rules of court, a clearance requirement is for those who have been ordered by courts for custody. She said such is not the case for those arrested at NutriAsia dispersal. “Prosecutor has said no basis to hold them, why should police act on the contrary?” Conti said.
With the continuing detention of the 19 detainees, Conti said the police are “liable for the delay in the delivery of detained persons to the proper judicial authorities.”
Conti pointed out that as of now, there are no formal charges filed in court against the detainees. She said that police must be able to file a case in court within a maximum period of 36 hours.
“It’s been 32 hours since the 19 were arrested. If the maximum hours for detention provided under Article 125 has already expired without a court case being filed, duty of police is to release the arrested,” she told Bulatlat at around 11 p.m., July 31.
NutriAsia workers began their strike on June 2 after management dismissed 50 workers. The NutriAsia workers are also demanding regularization.
NutriAsia is owned by Joselito Campos, worth P16.8 billion (US$ 905 million). Out of its 1,400 workers, only 100 are regular. Its brands are Datu Puti, UFC, Papa, Mang Tomas, Jufran, Golden Fiesta & Happy Fiesta.