Labor organizer Dennise Velasco walks free

Trade unionist Dennise Velasco out from prison. (Photo by Kodao Productions)


MANILA – Trade union organizer Dennise Velasco was finally released from Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City on Tuesday, March 8.

Velasco is one of the seven activists arrested on Dec. 10, 2020 after the police served him a search warrant issued by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.

Last March 2, Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 220 Judge Jose Paneda, dismissed charges against Velasco.

Human rights group Karapatan welcomed the dismissal of the charges saying that it “only proves that the charges against him and other activists arrested because of the search warrants issued by Judge Cecilyn-Burgos Villavert are based on concocted lies such as fabricated testimonies of so-called ‘witnesses’ and ‘confidential informants.”

Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor said that various courts have also quashed other search warrants issued by Burgos-Villavert such as those of Alexander and Winona Birondo, former staff members of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace negotiations panel and the search warrant issued against National Federation of Sugar Workers Secretary General John Milton Lozande.

NDFP peace consultant Estrelita Suaybaguio, women’s rights activist Cora Agovida and urban poor organizer Michael Bartolome were also acquitted by the courts of Quezon City and Manila, respectively, due to the failure of the prosecution to prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt. The three were also arrested on the basis of search warrants similarly issued by Villavert.

“This string of dismissals shows Judge Villavert’s notorious and baseless issuances of search warrants. She has clearly turned her court into a factory of bogus search warrants which has led to the illegal arrest of at least 76 activists, human rights defenders, peace advocates, peasant leaders, and journalists,” Clamor said.

Clamor described Villavert as a “complicit, shameless, and willing instrument of the Duterte government’s weaponization of judicial processes for its bloody crackdown on dissent acting in cahoots with the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the police, and the military.”

Clamor calls for the immediate dismissal of the fabricated charges filed against the remaining activists collectively called #HRDay7, as well as others arrested because of Villavert’s “bogus search warrant.”

“The Supreme Court must investigate and hold Judge Villavert accountable for her mockery of justice by using our courts for judicial harassment and political persecution, along with other judges who have also issued questionable search warrants that led to the killings and arrests of many human rights defenders and activists such as the case of Bloody Sunday victims,” Clamor said. (RTS, RVO) (

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