Militants reel from gov’t lawsuits


By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 06:56:00 11/11/2008

MANILA, Philippines—Militant organizations are reeling from the legal offensive allegedly employed by the Arroyo administration in place of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of political activists.

Lawyer Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), said Monday that 72 activists and sectoral leaders were charged with the March 2006 ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) of policemen in Oriental Mindoro.

Of the 72 accused, 35 were charged with murder and frustrated murder, Pastores said.

They include Remigio Saladero Jr., the chief legal counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and a member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), a voluntary organization of human rights lawyers in the country.

Saladero and four other political activists are detained at the Calapan City Jail and will be arraigned Wednesday.

Motions

Pastores said the PILC will file a Motion to Cancel Arraignment and Motion to Quash/Recall Warrants of Arrest and Motion to Dismiss the cases.

In addition to the 72, the human rights group Karapatan said 27 leaders and members of various progressive organizations in the Southern Tagalog region were implicated in the Aug. 2 bombing and burning of a cell site in Lemery, Batangas.

Two of the group’s officials, Southern Tagalog secretary general Doris Cuario and Batangas coordinator Dina Capetillo, were among the accused.

In a statement, Karapatan said it was “outraged by the recent legal offensive of the Arroyo administration against the legal democratic organizations particularly in Southern Tagalog.”

Blame

Karapatan blamed the government’s Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), headed by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales, for the alleged fabricated charges.

Ironically, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions Philip Alston has recommended the abolition of the IALAG, Karapatan said.

Karapatan secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a recent interview that the bombardment of cases against militant organizations was aimed at crippling the groups.

Enriquez said having scores of militant leaders in jail is in effect “demobilizing” their organizations.

She said she has asked the Commission on Human Rights to look into the matter.

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