After abduction, Cardeno now faces rebellion charges

Leo Palmejar, Bayan Muna local spokesperson, said the 27-year old Cardeño received a subpoena earlier this week from the prosecution office here to answer a rebellion case reportedly filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG).  

He said several officers of partylist groups Anakpawis and Kabataan were also included in the subpoena but he refused to name any of them.   

Provincial Prosecutor Alfredo Odi has given them 10 days to answer the charges, he said.    

"This is a clear case of harassment. A systematic scheme of the Arroyo government to silence us, progressive partylist groups," Palmejar said in an interview over radio station Bombo Radyo here.    

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes expressed dismay over the filing of charges against Cardeño saying it was done in bad faith.    

"Look at what they did. They abduct their subject, torture him and then file the charges. Is that the proper procedure?" Fuentes asked.    

Fuentes, who earlier convened a multisectoral group to locate Cardeño several hours after he was abducted, said the filing of rebellion charges made by the CIDG could be an admission that they were involved in the abduction of Cardeño.

"I'm not siding with Cardeño but I think what they're doing is a big mistake and is only sowing fear among the people," she added. CIDG regional officials based in General Santos City refused to comment on the matter,.

The rebellion case against Cardeño came three weeks after his ordeal in the hands of alleged government agents who forcibly took him in Barangay Sto. Nino here last June 6.

Cardeño, who was freed by his abductors two days later, said his still unidentified captors allegedly wanted him to spy on his colleagues. He said the kidnappers threatened to harm him and his family if he refuses to give in to them.

Palmejar believes the rebellion charges were connected with the abduction of Cardeno, who suffered from trauma as a result of the incident.

"They actually threatened to file charges against him if he refuses to cooperate with them. So now, here it is. It's too much for Gilbert since he has yet to recover from his ordeal," he said.

Palmejar claimed the charges filed against Cardeño and some of his colleagues and accusations of their links to the CPP-NPA were fabricated and have no basis.

"That's an old tale. What is clear is that this is part of a pattern of harassment against militant leaders by presenting trumped-up charges. The bottomline is that the government just wants to neutralize us," he said.

But Palmejar said Cardeño and other accused militant leaders will face the charges against them and will prove to their accusers that they were wrong.

He said the group is currently preparing counter-affidavits to answer the charges against Cardeño and his co-accused. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)