Lumad leader freed to custody of Surigao Sur governor

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/27 March)  – The arrested Lumad leader from Lianga town in Surigao del Sur is now out of jail and in the custody of provincial Governor Johnny Pimentel, a police official said Wednesday.


Supt. Jeffrey Lawrence Mauricio, Tandag City police chief, said that Jalandoni Campos was released Monday night after a court order was presented to them.


Campos was handed to Pimentel at about 9:23 p.m. Monday based on the transfer of custody order issued by Judge Alfredo Jalad of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 28 in the municipality of Lianga, Surigao del Sur. The order was signed at about 7:30 p.m. the same day.


Campos was arrested last Saturday night by the police and elements of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU) after an interview at a radio station in Tandag City.


He was nabbed by virtue of an arrest warrant issued by Jalad on May 2, 2011 for murder and rebellion charges. Campos was allegedly involved in a New People’s Army raid at the Lianga police station on April 28, 2011.


Apart from the court order, Mauricio said they released Campos because of the massing of people outside the police station.


“For security reason also since there were already people picketing outside the station. He has many supporters,” the police official said.


Some 200 Manobo tribesmen had picketed the Tandag police station, including teachers, students, nuns and those from other support groups. Another 80 persons protested outside the RTC Branch 28 office..


Campos is the chair of Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU), which is active in the campaign against large-scale mining in the Andap Valley complex in Surigao del Sur, which covers the towns of Lianga, San Agustin, San Miguel, Tago and Marihatag.


In a statement, Myrna Belandres, MAPASU deputy secretary general, welcomed the release of Campos, attributing the swift action of the court to the “unity of the Lumad people together with the other concerned sectors.”


She said unity is a “superior instrument in the search and achievement of the truth. Let us further strengthen our unity and cooperation so that we can achieve genuine justice and peace in our society.”

“The bombardment of support and public outcry hastened the normally snail-paced court process that expedited the signing of the court order,” Dr. Naty Castro, Karapatan-Caraga secretary general, said.


In a phone interview Tuesday night, Castro said the transfer of Campos to the custody of the provincial government was based on security and health reasons.


Campos’ defense lawyers have emphasized to the court that unidentified men were already tailing him since the warrant was issued, she added.


As to his health, Castro said Campos, who is 55 years old (not 45 as earlier reported), is a diabetic who needs to take daily medication.


She said the transfer of custody order “will be effective until the case is resolved.”


Castro noted that they specifically sought to have Campos in the custody of Governor Pimentel because of the continuing threats on his life and his health condition.


Karapatan-Caraga claimed there “there were at least two attempts by NICA and RIU elements to have Campos in their custody” in the last two days.


Mauricio confirmed this but did not release Campos to them in the absence of a court order.


For Pimentel, Mauricio said he offered to provide sanctuary to Campos after his arrest last Saturday night.


The provincial prosecutor’s office promised to conduct a “complete re-investigation” on charges filed against Campos. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)