Free the Rosales! Free All Political Prisoners!

“Duterte has already arrested 225 political prisoners under his term, bringing the number of political detainees across the country to 548 (as of December 2018). The government’s legal offensives have been expedited by the formation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) back in October 2017. This is further justified by the planting of evidence and the weaving of ludicrous and otherworldly tales. Suffice it to say, Duterte’s political persecution of progressive organizations and its members has intensified,” said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor. He noted that even former members of these targeted organizations are not exempt from the government’s reprisal, such as in the case of Rowena and Oliver Rosales. 

Today, January 30, 2019, the prosecution is set to present its first witness against political prisoners and former public sector organizers Oliver and Rowena Rosales in the Regional Trial Court Branch 19 in Malolos, Bulacan. Spouses Rowena and Oliver Rosales, former officers and organizers of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), were illegally arrested on August 11, 2018 while on their way home from the public market. 

The Rosaleses were forcibly taken while onboard their privately-owned tricycle at Galvez St., Brgy. Wawa, Balagtas, Bulacan, and were later taken to Camp Crame, Quezon City. Rowena was shown a warrant of arrest for trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the same warrant used against Courage member Juan Alexander Reyes on June 2, 2018. 

The following are quick facts on the trumped-up case against the Rosaleses:

1. Oliver and Rowena Rosales were abducted by 10 men in civilian clothing, boarded in separate vehicles, and blindfolded while they were taken to Camp Crame. There, they were interrogated. Arresting officers did not inform the couple of their rights under RA 7438. 

2. The police allegedly “recovered” a .45 caliber pistol with chamber load and magazine full of live ammunition from Rowena, and a .38 caliber revolver with two live ammunition inserted in the barrel and a fragmentation grenade from Oliver – the firearms were “seized” while the couple was coming home from the market!

3. The complainants alleged that the evidence against Rowena and Oliver were found in a bag that was “seized” from them. However, the victims attest that they were not in possession of any bags during the time of their arrest.

4. All the firearms and explosives used as evidence against the Rosales couple were only photographed inside Camp Crame and not at the scene of the crime. 

5. Courage members, including the Rosales couple, previously filed a writ of amparo before the Supreme Court in August 2015, asking protection after a series of threats and surveillance against the union. The Court gave due course to the petition.

Karapatan's deputy secretary general added that "the trumped-up charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives is increasingly used by the police because it is easier to manufacture -- the police themselves stand as the complainants and they have easy access to the victims' belongings, allowing for them to plant evidence or declare new items as part of the victim's possession."

“As the prosecution is set to present its first witness, we can expect a barrage of new accusations and lies to implicate the Rosaleses. Despite the questionable circumstances and the unacceptable manner of their arrest, the Duterte government, in cahoots with the police and the courts, have jailed innocents. The period of detention and the inhumane jail conditions add to the injustice that the government has imposed on the couple who had to also leave their children to the care of their relatives. We reiterate our call for the freedom of the Rosaleses and the release of all political prisoners,” Clamor emphasized.

“We repeat what we have said time and again: political prisoners should be released because the charges against them are patently false and manufactured. This violates the people’s right to organize and their freedom of association. The use of trumped-up charges is a maneuver utilized by avowed fascists to silence dissent and feign public agreement of the government’s anti-people policies,” he ended. 

Reference: Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, +639997721233

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580