Ilocos court drops rebellion charges vs peace consultant


CANDON CITY — The Ilocos Sur provincial prosecutor’s office  dismissed rebellion charges against National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Peace Consultant Elizabeth Prinsipe as an end result of the preliminary investigation ordered by the court in July.

The three-page resolution signed by Fiscal Redentor Cardenas stated “the participation of the accused Elizabeth Prinsipe was not actual but only presumed. Under the basic tenets of criminal law, any doubt should always be interpreted in favor of the innocence of the accused.”

As an end result of the preliminary investigation ordered by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 Judge Gabino Balbin Jr., the provincial prosecutors office found no probable cause of the crime rebellion. It was resolved that her name be dropped from the rebellion charge in Criminal Case No. 1260 in Candon City, Ilocos Sur RTC Branch 23 and that her case be dismissed.

Principe, through her lawyers in the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the Cordillera Indigenous People’s Legal Center (Dinteg) submitted her counter-affidavit August 5, after the court gave her 15 days to submit her statement.

‘Never set foot in Ilocos Sur’

Principe stated in her counter-affidavit she worked as a paramedic in Cagayan Valley until she was arrested in November 28, 2007 by virtue of the case filed in Branch 23 RTC Candon City, Ilocos Sur. She noted the evidence against her was based on hearsay particularly of those witnesses Gaspar Bagsingit, CIC Orlando Maguinsay and SSgt. Victoriano Jallorina who accused her of being a high- ranking officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

Principe denied such accusations and claimed she never set foot in Ilocos Sur except during her arraignment in January this year, where she was secretly transferred by the PNP on the night of January 22, although during the time of the attack of the house of Jallorina, she was in Cagayan Valley.

Her counter-affidavit concluded nobody was able to prove that she was part or participated in the pursuit of rebellion against the government or any of its instrumentality.

‘Ka Memay’

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-Ilocos Sur however, countered the statement of Prinsipe questioning her profession as a paramedic.

“She had no reason as to why she was in the place of the camps of the rebels and she never gave any reason why she had to render medical services and educate people in the said places as she was never employed by the Government,” the CIDG counter to the counter-affidavit said.

The CIDG also claimed Prinsipe was a member of the CPP-NPA-NDFP and that her nom-de-guerre is Ka Memay. The statement also accused Leo Velasco, Prinsipe’s missing husband, as the CPP-NPA’s highest organ cadre.

Based on the allegations and counter allegations, the resolution noted it went over the pieces of evidence to determine its probable cause. Statements of Maguinsay, Basingit and Jallorina were reviewed to which the resolution stated that it was “presumed” and not “actual” evidence.  Such became the basis of the dismissal of the rebellion charge against Prinsipe.

Prinsipe, 58, a peace process consultant of the NDFP and a paramedic in profession, was abducted last year by military intelligence personnel while on her way to a medical check-up. The military and police also implicated her in the Manila Peninsula stand off last November 2007 and alleged her of multiple charges in Cagayan Valley and Ilocos Region where she was implicated in the strafing of the house of Jallorina in 1991.

Hope for release

Lorena Santos, daughter of Elizabeth Prinsipe and Leo Velasco and currently the spokesperson of Free Elizabeth Principe and Surface Leo Velasco Task Force welcome the decision of the provincial prosecutor’s office.

“I am deeply relieved to know that my mother’s rebellion case in Candon is finally dismissed,” Santos said in a text message.

Santos said this dismissal is a first step for her mother’s release. “This gives my family hope that my mother will be set free and so as other political prisoners,” she said in a text message.

Prinsipe and her lawyers from PILC and Dinteg is set to attend a hearing on October 22 at Candon City. # Rod Tajon(NorDis)

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