Kin, colleagues slam move to keep 4 union organizers in jail

Diane Zapata (second from left) wife of Dennise Velasco speaking during the press conference on Dec. 24. (Photo courtesy of Defend Jobs Philippines)

Parang binuhusan ako ng malamig na tubig. (My enthusiasm was immediately put off) If you could just imagine the mental anguish that we feel because all along we thought we will be with him this Christmas.”

By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Four union organizers could have spent their Christmas with their families if not for what their lawyers called as “maneuvers” by the police to prevent their supposed release on Dec. 23.

Katherine Panguban of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said that a release order was already issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 220 for Dennise Velasco, Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Astudillo and Jaymie Gregorio, Jr., four of what now is collectively called as HRDay7. While they were processing their release, however, an amended resolution was issued by the Quezon City Prosecutor Leilia Llanes, superseding the release order.

The amended resolution states that the four are facing charges of illegal possession of explosives, which is a non-bailable offense.

It was in the amended resolution that the NUPL found out that the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group has filed ex parte urgent motion for reconsideration on Dec. 18. What was noticeable however, is that the amended resolution was not signed by Llanes, and the date filed was also dated Dec. 22, according to Panguban.

“This alarming because our clients were not notified of the motion filed by the CIDG. They were not given a chance to question this motion in court,” Panguban said during the press conference today, Dec. 24.

In Velasco’s case, Panguban said the QC prosecutor’s office has initially issued a resolution on Dec. 15, which recommends the filing of illegal possession of firearms and explosives with recommended bail of P350,000 ($7,277). The charge of illegal possession of explosives on the other hand is for further investigation, she added.

The same also applies with the other three.

Velasco’s wife Diane Zapata was emotional and dismayed with the sudden filing of the non-bailable charge, saying that in the first place, all the charges against them are fabricated.

“Parang binuhusan ako ng malamig na tubig. (My enthusiasm was immediately put off) If you could just imagine the mental anguish that we feel because all along we thought we will be with him this Christmas,” Zapata said, adding that they also have expected the worst.

Ella Durana, wife of Cruz, said the prosecutor’s move was unacceptable. “We are shocked why this suddenly happened. We have borrowed money for their bail and this happened. It’s like we were slapped left and right,” Durana said.

The four trade union organizers expected government’s recent move. “We are not shocked. We have expected that the Duterte administration will do everything in his power to stop our release. But the fight still continues,” they said in a letter read during the press conference.

The four, along with two more trade union organizers and Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem, were arrested during simultaneous raids on the early morning of Dec. 10. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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