Militants happy with junking of
arson case vs. fisherfolk leader, 26 others
The national chairperson of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on Wednesday said his group was rejoicing with the decision of Batangas City prosecutor junking the arson case filed against Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog secretary General Isabelo Alicaya and 26 other militant leaders in the province.
“It was a triumph of the people’s persistent quest for truth and justice over the sinister agenda of the ruling national security syndicate in Malacañang,” said Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap in a phone interview.
The Pamalakaya leader added: “We are very happy for scoring another political and legal victory against the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group of the militarist regime of President Arroyo. Of course, the Arroyo administration will not stop in persecuting our leaders and they will continue their evil agenda against our colleagues, but they were frustrated with this one and that is a cause for a celebration.”
Hicap said it will advise the regional council of leaders of Pamalakaya-Southern Tagalog and the Haligi ng Batangueñong Anakdagat (Habagat), the group’s provincial chapter to study the filing of criminal and administrative charges against the complainant, the complainant witnesses and members of the Philippine National Police in Batangas who orchestrated the filing of the case before the provincial prosecutor’s office.
“We will advise Ka Beloy to explore the filing of criminal and other appropriate charges against the complainant, his witnesses and their handlers in the provincial police and in the military. Something must be done to teach these militarists and their partners in crime a lesson of a lifetime,” the Pamalakaya leader added.
The case against Alicaya, labor lawyer Atty. Remigio Saladero and 25 others stemmed from the alleged burning of a Globe Telecom cell site in Lemery, Batangas on August, 2008 allegedly by members of the New People’s Army.
In her 7-page decision penned by Third Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Esmeralda Andaya, the prosecution said the complainant’s case against the respondents was destroyed by no less than the statements of the complainants’ witnesses.
Andaya said the evidence presented by the complainants during the preliminary investigation reveal serious and inexplicable discrepancies and characterized by missing links and loose ends that refuse to tie up.
The assistant prosecutor also said the enumeration of aliases of 11 respondents who appeared before her, including Saladero, is not sufficient to prove that the accused are members of the NPA and they are responsible for the destruction of the cell site.
Pamalakaya said Globe is well informed that these leaders known as ST 27 are focused on more important concerns like agrarian reform, social justice and human rights and don’t have motives nor the physical and armed capacity to burn cell sites. “They are plain and simple activists and patriots working for the cause of farmers and oppressed folks in the region,” the group said.
The Pamalakaya said: “That’s why it so ridiculous on the part of Globe to file this arson and rebellion complaint. What’s the purpose of this stupid rebellion case? Are they in cahoots with the military in pursuing an all-out campaign of terror and political repression against legitimate people’s organizations?”
The militant group believed that the filing of rebellion and other charges against ST 27 was orchestrated by Malacañang, the National Security Council headed by security adviser Norberto Gonzalez and the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) chaired by Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez.
Aside from Alicaya and Saladero, those who were cleared in the arson and rebellion charge include Agaton Bautista, organizer of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) affiliate Samahan ng Magbubukid sa Batangas (SAMBAT), Renato Baybay of KAMAGSASAKA-Cavite), Noriel Rocafort, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Batangas chapter), Bayani Cambronero, regional coordinator of Bayan Muna-Southern Tagalog, Atty. Remigio Saladero, founding member of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) and 21 more from Bayan allied organizations.
Also those cleared from arson charges are Amelita Sto. Tomas of Gabriela-Cavite, Alex Arias of KMP-Laguna, Rolando Mingo, vice chair of the transport group Piston, Romeo Aguilar of urban poor group Kadamay and Dina Capetillo of the human rights watchdog Karapatan-Batangas.
Pamalakaya said the 27 leaders are in the master list of the AFP and the PNP in Southern Tagalog who were marked as targets of the Palace-backed death squads in the region. Currently under fire from global people for masterminding the death of 901 activists over the last seven years, the militarist regime is now carrying this kind of strategy to silence these activists from exposing and opposing the crimes of President Arroyo and her military in the region,” the group noted.
Pamalakaya also said the strategy of filing fabricated charges has been implemented in many regions like Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Mindanao regions and Negros provinces. The group said Oplan Bantay Laya II is also giving weight to the legal offensive to make sure leaders of activist groups are silenced and terrorized. #