By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Camarines Sur dismissed the murder charges filed by the police and the military against two activists for lack of probable cause.
In a resolution dated Feb 26, 2021, Prosecution Attorney Sean Paulo M. Dumalasa said “the complainant and their witnesses failed to show pieces of evidence against the respondents to warrant probable cause for their indictment.”
Respondents are Jenelyn Nagrampa-Caballero, Gabriel’s national vice chairperson, and Pastor Dan San Andres of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and Karapatan-Bicol’s spokesperson who were arrested on July 7 and 9 respectively.
Dumalasa noted that the statements of the witnesses, co-witnesses and the circumstances leading to the identification of Caballero and San Andres “are tainted with doubt and irregularity.”
The military and police filed the murder charges against the two after an alleged ambush by the New People’s Army resulted in the killing of two soldiers in Ragay, Camarines Sur on May 13, 2018.
The witnesses alleged that during the firefight, they saw Caballero and San Andres and further confirmed their identification from the rogue gallery of the military intelligence group.
“Perusing on their statements at a glance would readily reveal that respondents committed the acts against the deceased victims considering that they were identified. A circumspect review of the Salaysay (affidavit) of complaining witnesses and their witness on one hand and the counter affidavits of respondents San Andres, Nagrampa-Caballero and their witnesses including pieces of evidence would show otherwise,” Dumalasa said in the resolution.
According to the resolution, the counter-affidavit of Caballero said that aside from being busy preparing for the barangay elections on the following day, she was also nine months pregnant. She gave birth days later on May 19, 2018.
Caballero also narrated in the affidavit the harassment against her in October 2019 by men who introduced themselves as employees of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). She also received death threats and tagged her as a sympathizer of the communist groups due to her affiliation with Gabriela.
San Andres, 61, also narrated that on the said date of incident, he presided over the Divine Worship Service, even providing photographs taken during the activity.
San Andres also questioned the integrity of the complaint against them by pointing out that the murder charges against them a year after the incident on May 13, 2018.
The resolution pointed out that, “Delay in filing the case must be adequately and satisfactorily explained otherwise this would create doubt as to the culpability of the respondents. In this case, Cpl. Arlo Babol’s allegation that he is just following the orders and chain of command of the 96th Infantry Battalion is not adequate and satisfactory to justify the delay in filing the case, the doubt sets in.”
In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Camarines Sur said that the junking of the murder charge against the two is a victory. “In this instance, the truth and due process prevail.”
“Fabricated charges of the state against progressives and ordinary citizens can never silence the furious people who resist,” the group said.