Appeal for Action: 2 NDFP peace consultants convicted on false criminal charges

APPEAL FOR ACTION
PEACE CONSULTANTS OF THE 
NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC FRONT OF THE PHILIPPINES 
CONVICTED ON FALSE CRIMINAL CHARGES

Dear friends,
 
Please join us in our call for the immediate release of political prisoners Emeterio Antalan and Leopoldo Caloza who were convicted of murder on September 17, 2015 by the Pasig City Regional Trial Court Branch 266 after six years of trial. Their arrest is already a violation of the JASIG, their conviction is even a graver  offense. 

Emeterio Antalan, 56, and Leopoldo Caloza, 55, both peace consultants for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines were "guilty beyond reasonable doubt", according to presiding judge Toribio Ilao, Jr.  for the murder of a certain Kathlyn Ramos, supposedly a “deep penetrating agent  (DPA) from the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”
 
 
 
Caloza was arrested in 2006 and had to face in court 21 trumped-up criminal charges while Antalan was arrested in 2007 and charged with eight criminal cases. Almost all of the charges against the two were dismissed or quashed for lack of merit as early as 2007. The murder case for which they were sentenced to reclusion perpetua or life imprisonment would have been the last of the false charges Antalan  had to hurdle in court. It would have been the same for Caloza, except that in August 2015, two criminal charges, long archived, were revived. A warrant of arrest was issued Caloza at the Camp Bagong Diwa for murder in 1994 and attempted murder in 2005.

Antalan and Caloza are protected by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), making them immune from arrests and detention to be able to perform their duties as peace consultants. Caloza is a consultant working on the Comprehensive Agreement for Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). 
 
Judge Ilao’s decision was based solely on the testimony of Bayani Domingo, who claimed to be a former member of the New People’s Army before he surrendered to the military in 2002.  Domingo admitted he did not see Antalan and Caloza kill Kathlyn Ramos.

Domingo claimed that on October 26, 2002 at a camp of the New People’s Army in San Jose City, Nueva Ecija, he was ordered by NPA Commander Ka Ino, whom Domingo averred as Caloza, to dig a hole on the ground. Domingo also claimed that he was ordered to fetch Antalan, aka Ka Iro, along with the DPA Ramos and other companions. 

In 2006, Domingo surrendered to the 48th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army and supposedly led the military to the grave of Ramos. 

Two other testimonies against Caloza and Antalan, came from  Leonardo Bernardo and mother of Ramos, Tarcila.  Bernardo said he knew Antalan and Caloza as NPA leaders and Ramos as “tagapagturo sa magsasaka.” He later learned that Ramos was killed. Bernardo’s testimony mentioned nothing about the alleged murder.  

Tarcila Ramos testified about the exhumation of the body she assumed, but not certain, to be that of  her daughter’s. She admitted in court that they didn’t undergo DNA test to establish it was her Kathlyn Ramos’s remains. 

Domingo, in his testimony, usedthe names Caloza and Antalan, and not the alleged aliases of those people who were supposedly involved in the killing of Ramos. Still, the court believed Domingo's story even without any direct evidences to support his claim. Branch 266 even justified this by saying, "circumstantial evidence, if sufficient, can supplant the absence of direct evidence."
 
Caloza's son Arturo was gunned down by soldiers under Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan also in 2006. Arturo was 26 when he was killed. Caloza is now detained at the New Bilibid Prisons, Muntilupa City. His lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and Public Interest Law Center are set to file an appeal to the higher court. 

Caloza and Antalan came from landless peasant families in Nueva Ecija. Both joined the struggle of farmers for genuine land reform. Both became peasant organizers and helped other farmers fight against land grabbing of big landlords of Central Luzon. 

Caloza and Antalan are the second and third peace consultants to be convicted since the JASIG was signed by the GPH and the NDFP in 1995. In 2013, peace consultant Eduardo Sarmiento was sentenced to life imprisonment for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. 

We appeal to our fellow human rights advocates to issue public statements and communicate with Philippine authorities to press for the immediate release of Caloza and Antalan and other political prisoners. We enjoin you to call on the Philippine Government to stop its repressive policy of filing trumped up criminal charges against political activists and peace advocates and instead, honor the agreements it signed with the NDFP.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace,
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph

Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: osnd@philonline.com, dnd.opla@gmail.com

Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-1908 
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com,lmdelima.doj@gmail.com

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex 
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
E-mail: comsec@chr.gov.ph


Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:

KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts.,
Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org
Website: www.karapatan.org
 
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