“This PILC’s fourth grant of a demurrer to evidence in an illegal possession case against a person in the peace process, a pattern that debunks what police want us to believe. What’s true: peace consultants are not armed and dangerous!”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – A local court in Marikina has ruled in favor of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Renante Gamara who was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
In a decision released Aug. 3, Judge Alice C. Gutierrez of Marikina Regional Trial Court Branch 193 said that the prosecution failed to establish “proof beyond reasonable doubt” against Gamara.
Gutierrez emphasized that police, as pillars of the criminal justice system, should “ensure that the evidence against the accused is clear and convincing and that not even a scintilla of doubt must come to the scrutinous eye of the court.”
“Otherwise, once it is shown that such doubt existed no matter how innocuous it may be, the court will be left with no option but to sustain the demurrer to evidence,” the judge said.
It was in March 2019 when Gamara and his companion, retired priest Arturo Balagat. were arrested in Cavite for charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Gamara’s counsels from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) said that the trials only “exposed errors and irregularities in police operations.”
“We, as defense counsels in the PILC, ferreted out false and illogical testimonies of law enforcement officials. The dismissal of the cases proves and highlights the enormous embarrassment upon the law enforcement agencies for fabricating cases and planting evidence,” the PILC said in a statement referring not only to the case of Gamara but also the junking of the same charges against NDFP staff members Alexander and Winona Birondo in April this year.
The search warrant against the Birondos had been quashed earlier, but trial proceeded on other available evidence, according to the PILC.
Warrants used against the Birondos and Gamara were issued by Quezon City Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, who is known to have been one of the sources of “copy-paste search warrants” that led to the arrests and detention of activists.
“Trumped-up cases do not withstand fair and rigorous trial, and should perforce cease at once,” the PILC added.
In her Twitter post, Kristina Conti, one of the lawyers of Gamara, said the police implemented a warrant after they had arrested Gamara. The police claimed that Gamara had a safehouse in Marikina and found photos together with the gun. She added that Gamara is not even at the said safehouse.
In People v. Gamara, police asked for and implemented a warrant AFTER they had arrested Gamara in Cavite. Claimed that Gamara had a Marikina safehouse and found photos together with the gun. Judge Gutierrez found it all too incredulous, and too sloppy of police work. pic.twitter.com/gkntEUj2T2
— Kristina Conti (@chronikrissys) August 4, 2022
“This PILC’s fourth grant of a demurrer to evidence in an illegal possession case against a person in the peace process, a pattern that debunks what police want us to believe. What’s true: peace consultants are not armed and dangerous!” Conti said.
Former President Duterte’s unanimous termination of peace talks with the NDFP on Nov. 23, 2017 has led to the arrest of peace consultants who have also participated in the peace negotiations at the beginning of his administration.
Read via our mirror website:
Duterte, not the Reds, obstacle to peace
Timeline | Attacks on peace consultants under the Duterte administration