By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A Quezon City court dismissed today, Jan. 15, the charges against National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rafael Baylosis for insufficiency of evidence, his lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center said in a statement.
Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of the PILC, said, “The decision penned by Judge Editha G. Miña-Aguba pointed out the incredulity of the police narrative of the surveillance and arrest, saying: for ‘evidence to be believed, it must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible in itself, such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances.’”
Baylosis, who was arrested on Jan. 31, 2018 along with companion Roque Guillermo Jr., was among those nabbed after President Rodrigo Duterte declared an end to peace talks with the NDFP, where he is a consultant for both social and economic reforms and political and constitutional reforms – two substantive agenda in the peace negotiations.
Three more peace consultants were arrested after him and remain incarcerated to this day. They are Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad, and Rey Claro Casambre.
“The dismissal of the case not only vindicates Baylosis, who has always asserted his innocence; it also exposes how the police carry out illegal actions – vilification, undue surveillance, illegal arrest, planting of evidence, and filing of trumped-up charges – against peace consultants and political activists,” Pastores said.
‘More imagined than real’
In the court decision, Judge Aguba noted the inconsistencies and contradictory individual claims of arresting police officers in their respective testimonies, such as their distance from Baylosis when they noticed a firearm purportedly tucked at the peace consultant’s waist.
“Either way, it was improbable for him to see, even with his perfect vision, what he declared he had seen at 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” the court decision read, adding that what they saw may be “more imagined than real.”
By this alone, the court decision further added, “the cases are dismissible.”
“It is settled that an evidence to be believed must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness but it must be credible itself, such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances,” the decision read.
Pastores said “Baylosis’s defense poked holes into their story, pointed out not only lapses but grievous procedural mistakes, and thus exposed concerted, malicious efforts to fabricate the charges.”
NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili told Bulatlat that he welcomes the court decision, adding that “it shows that there are GRP judges who respect their own laws and would not kowtow to the filing of trumped-up charges by the military and police.”
Filing of countercharges
In a message sent to Bulatlat , Baylosis’s daughter Eleanor de Guzman welcomed the court decision, adding that there should be “no other hindrance to his father’s liberty.”
De Guzman said her family has always been confident that the charges filed against her father will be dismissed as the witnesses presented against him “could only tell lies and their testimonies are riddled with inconsistencies.”