Lawmaker lauds junking of kidnap raps vs Lumad supporters

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 July) – A progressive lawmaker lauded Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre for dismissing the charges of serious illegal detention and kidnapping against 15 human rights defenders who are supporting the Lumad bakwits at the Haran Evacuation Center here.

In a text Message on Tuesday, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the accusations were baseless and intended to harass the human rights activists.

He said the scrapping of the “preposterous” charges vindicated not only the accused activists but also the Lumad who have been forced to leave their homes due to militarization.

“The military-instigated charges are now exposed as nothing but a desperate attempt to vilify the human rights defenders, like the Haran 15, and the legitimacy of their advocacies,” he said.

Some 300 Lumads have been seeking refuge at the Haran, an evacuation center run by the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, for over a year since they left their communities in Talaingod and Kapalong in Davao del Norte and White Culaman, Kitaotao in Bukidnon.

In a resolution issued on Monday, Prosecutor Loverhette Jeffrey P. Villordon said there is no deprivation of liberty committed by the respondents such as Rev. Jurie Jaime, Bayan Southern Mindanao Region (SMR)secretary general Sheena Duazo, Karapatan SMR secretary general Hanimay Suazo, Ryan Laniba, Tony Salubre, Jimboy Maciano;

Gabriela Davao secretary general Mary Ann Sapar, Jaja Encosio, Pedro Arnado, Pasaka SMR chairperson Kerlan Fanagel, Sr. Stella Matutina, Sr. Restita Miles, Isidro Andao, Kharlo Manano, and Save Our Schools Network spokesperson Rius Valle.

Datu Kalumpot Dalon, one of the six complainants, filed last July 8, 2016 a “Motion for Early Resolution of Respondents” with an attached affidavit of desistance with recantation.

In his motion, Dalon said that “in the interest of truth, justice and fairness, I do not know all the persons of the accused in this case. The filing of this case was not of my own free will since I do not know them. For the record, my companions and I were not kidnapped nor we were detained at the Haran Compound in Davao City.”

Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao said combined legal efforts and the continuous mass movement to stop the attacks on the people’s rights have become significant in the dismissal of charges.

Anti-SLAPP Bill

Zarate vowed he would push for an Anti-Strategic Law Suit Against Public Participation which seeks to “define SLAPP cases and provide measure for its dismissal.”

“These clearly trumped up charges must stop and those behind these should be penalized. We will therefore work for the passage into law of the anti-SLAPP Bill that we refiled recently. Trumped-up cases are undemocratic and anathema to our constitutionally guaranteed rights,” he said.

Under section 4 of the bill, SLAPP includes “any civil complaint, counter-claim, cross-claim, third (or fourth)-party complaint, or complain-in-intervention, criminal complaint or information, or administrative complaint filed against individuals, groups, labor unions, entity or associations, community residents.”

Section 6 states “the court shall have the duty to immediately make a determination whether the case is a SLAPP.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)