Release Eduardo Serrano Now!

Human rights advocates and supporters of Eduardo Serrano such as former political prisoner Andrea Rosal today called for the immediate release of Serrano for “sheer lack of evidence against a man who was abducted, tortured, and imprisoned for nearly 12 years.” Serrano, peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines is undergoing trial for trumped-up multiple murder and frustrated charges at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 98.

Free Eduardo Serrano now! 

All victims of false criminal charges. NDFP peace consultant Eduardo Serrano with Andrea Rosal, newly released from prison. 

“Eduardo Serrano has been deprived of his civil and political rights since his Gestapo-style abduction and torture and his subsequent incarceration for nearly 12 years. For 10 days after his illegal arrest, from May 2, 2004 to May 12, 2004, he was denied the right to counsel and was not allowed to see his family and human rights organizations,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General.  

On July 13, 2015, the Special Third Division of the Court of Appeals decided on his petition for certiorari and prohibition with prayer and issuance of temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction. On August 26, 2015 at the Quezon City RTC Branch 98, Judge Marilou Runes-Tamang read the CA decision and directed the prosecution to present evidence that Serrano is “Rogelio Villanueva” or “Ka Makling” and subsequently suspended Serrano’s arraingnment until the issue of his identity is finally resolved. 

Judge Runes-Tamang is set to hear evidence of the prosecution at today’s summary hearing to determine whether Serrano and the named respondent, a certain “Rogelio Villanueva” is the same person. The prosecution, however, did not appear, effectively waiving their right to present evidence, according to the judge. 

Karapatan said there is NO warrant of arrest issued against Serrano on the charges against him. Serrano was not named among the accused in the original information for the alleged crime of multiple murder, frustrated murder, and robbery. There was only one warrant of arrest issued for this case, specifically for “Nemesio Cabungcal et al”. Other names stated in the information were only aliases. “Thus, Serrano’s abduction on May 2, 2004 is a case of warrantless arrest,” Palabay said. 

The case was filed by soldiers under the command of Ret. Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan Jr. [1LT Alex Ampati, Sgt. Berling Fariñas, and Pfc. Gilbert Turingan of the 68th Infantry Battalion under the 7th Infantry Division] at the RTC in Pinamalayan, Mindoro Oriental. 

It was only on July 22, 2011, more than seven years after Serrano was illegally arrested, that an amended information was filed by the prosecution, inserting the name of Serrano and claiming he was “Rogelio Villanueva.” 

“There is NO evidence at all that Serrano is “Rogelio Villanueva”. None of the witnesses’ affidavits mentioned Serrano’s name and that Serrano was among those who participated in the ambush,” Palabay added. Karapatan said the AFP also filed several other charges against “Rogelio Villanueva” in three other courts in Quezon City. 

“The practice of the Armed Forces of the Philippines of concocting charges against their perceived “enemies” shows the military’s convoluted ways and thinking. They file false charges to justify the abduction and illegal arrest of persons like Serrano, security guard Rolly Panesa, Andrea Rosal and other political prisoners,” Palabay said, adding there are 537 political prisoners in the country to date. 

Panesa, who was alleged by the military as “Benjamin Mendoza,” was abducted on October 5, 2012; he was tortured at Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna and then transferred to Camp Bagong Diwa where he was imprisoned for 10 months. Rosal, daughter of former New People’s Army spokesperson Ka Roger Rosal, was released from prison on September 7, 2015, after the Mauban Quezon court dismissed the trumped up charges against due to lack of evidence. Rosal’s baby died after she gave birth in detention. 

“We appeal to Judge Runes-Tamang to rule on what is just and right for the long-imprisoned Eduardo Serrano. All charges against him in the said court, as well as in other courts, should be dismissed and he should be immediately released,” Palabay concluded.

 

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