Charges vs 15 human rights defenders helping lumads dismissed

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Sept) – The City Prosecutor’s Office recommended the dismissal of kidnapping and serious illegal detention complaints filed against 15 human rights defenders who supported some lumad evacuees at the Haran Evacuation Center in this city for insufficient evidence.

In his resolution dated September 8, City Prosecutor III Samuel T. Atencia ruled that it is essential in the crime of illegal detention that there be actual confinement or restriction of the person of the offended party.

“Thus, if the alleged victim had freedom to leave the premises where she was allegedly confined, the crime of illegal detention cannot rise because she was not deprived of her liberty,” he stated.

On the kidnapping, he said that “would have been hard to conceal the kidnapping since the ‘UCCP Haran’ compound is right near Bankerohan Market. Kidnapping ‘en masse’ in the heart of the city and confinement in a church compound is, to say the least, not plausible. It would have been hard not to notice this forced confinement. There were no armed guards to restrict their movement.”

In the resolution, he also stated that the lumads were not restricted to go out of the compound but forced to stay because of the circumstances they were in, for instance, they had no fare to return to their homes.

“Additionally, it is not inconceivable that most of them stayed because they believe that the free goods promised to them will eventually be given to them,” Atencia said.

Datu Kalumpot Dalon, Datu Laris Landahay, Libaraha Angkomog, Juvanie Angkomog, Limar Mangomoy At, and Tata Angkomog Lundia, members of the Matigsalug-Manobo tribe from Sitio Inayaman, Brgy. San Fernando, Bukidnon complained that some of the lumads went down to Davao City on promise that they would be given free sacks of rice, grocery items, farms tools and would be meeting President Benigno Simeon Aquino III, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, and Rep. Manny Pacquiao.

The complainants even claimed that they were made to join the rally and picketed outside the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCom) in Panacan, this city, and had been “‘indoctrinated’ for want of a better term, on their ‘rights’ and lectures on ‘military abuses’.”

In a text message, Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bayan-Southern Mindanao, one of the 15 accused, said the case was a classic example of strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) suit meant to harass, intimidate, and silence them while supporting the lumads against militarization and development aggressions.

“The (President Benigno) Aquino administration showed to us that his regime is no different from (Ferdinand) Marcos’ where AFP serves as a state apparatus to serve the interest of giant mining corporations while violating human rights in outstanding level,” she said.

The others accused include Jurie Jaime; Hanimay Suazo, secretary general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao; Ryan Laniba; Tony Salubre; Jimboy Marciano; Mary Ann Sapar, spokesperson for Gabriela Southern Mindanao; Jaja Necosio; Pedro Arnado; Kerlan Fanagel; Sr. Stella Matutina; Sr. Restita Miles; Isidro Andao; Kharlo Manano; and Riuz Valle.