Court orders rights activist brought to Sulu to face charges

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 January) — Police whisked off Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie to the airport around noon yesterday for his flight back to Sulu based on the court order issued by Regional Trial Court Branch 3 Judge Leo Jay Principe in Jolo.

Supt. Jose Carumba,spokesperson of the Davao Police Regional Office, said they are just following the court order directing the police to bring Tulawie back to the Jolo court to face the charges leveled against him.

“There’s a court order to turn Tulawie over (to Branch 3) in 48 hours,” he said.

Supt. Fernando Ortega, commander of the Special Action Force, and other members of the security group assisted the Region 9 police officers tasked to bring Tulawie back to Sulu.

“We no longer have hold on him. The police officers in Region 9 are now tasked to give him protection,” Carumba said.

Mary Ann Arnado, secretary general of the Mindanao People’s Caucus and one of the lawyers handling Tulawie’s case, said they will try to do everything they can to bring Tulawie back in Davao City for his own safety.

“I will talk to the executive judge here what we can do so we can hold Tulawie in Zamboanga and prevent him from going back to Jolo,” she said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Tulawie was still in Zamboanga City.

She added that the executive judge of the Regional Trial of Court Branch in Davao received a call from the Supreme Court regarding the matter but she was no privy to the whole conversation.

Just an hour before his escorts arrived, Tulawie was processed inside the Davao City Police Office as investigators took his mug shot and fingerprints. His son visited him shortly after, offering him pillows and other personal belongings.

He was charged for violation of Section 3 of Presidential Decree 1833 or “Unlawful Manufacture, Sales, Acquisition, Disposition or Possession of Explosives,” which carries a penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1,000,000.

A human rights defender in Sulu, Tulawie was accused of attempting to kill Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan because of his alleged involvement in the bombing incident on May 13, 2009 which wounded 12 persons including Tan.

He said he is willing to face the case but the trial should be held in Davao City. “I feel safe here. Everybody knows they are corrupt politicians,” he explained.

He was arrested on Saturday around 11 a.m. at Elenita Heights in Catalunan Grande.

Tulawie’s wife, Mussah Sherian, yesterday alleged that Sulu is under the control of Tan, adding some reporters who are influenced by the governor did not give them a chance to defend themselves.

“We are happy here because our voices are heard unlike in Sulu,” she said.

On June 13, 2011, the Supreme Court granted Tulawie’s request for a transfer of venue of the trial.

The decision reads: “Acting on the Petition for transfer of Venue, filed by Temogen ‘Cocoy’ Tulawie, one of the accused in Criminal Case nos. (07-09) 1648-3 and (07-09) 1649-3 from the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Jolo, Sulu, to any court as this Court may deem convenient, and considering that there is an indication of actual and imminent threat to the life of the petitioner and his family, as well as his witnesses, as found by the Court of appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 00002-W/RA-MIN and there is reason to believe that continuing with the trial of the subject criminal cases in the RTC, Jolo, Sulu can lead to a miscarriage of justice,” the website of the Mindanao People’s Caucus said.

Tulawie was an active member of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue from 2004-2008 and a council member of Non-Violent Peace Force in Sulu. (MindaNews)