Warrant of arrest issued against 15 activists and church workers for assisting Lumad evacuees

Dear Friends,

Join us as we strongly denounce the issuance of warrant of arrest against the fifteen activists and church workers assisting the Lumad evacuees at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Haran in Davao City. 
 
 
On January 2015, some 800 Ata Manobo from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte and San Fernando, Bukidnon started to evacuate from their communities to the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP)-Haran in Davao City due to atrocities committed by the military led by the 10th Infantry Division-Philippine Army headed by Gen. Eduardo Ano, and its paramilitary group Alamara. The military harassed teachers and students of the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation Inc. (MISFI) Academy in Kapalong. A 14-year-old girl was raped by members of the 68th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army in Talaingod. Five male residents in San Fernando were tortured by the military – beaten, their heads wrapped with cellophanes. 

On July 11, 2015, leaders of people’s organizations and human rights activists learned that trumped up criminal charges were filed against 15 individuals and implicated some 55 others for supporting the Lumad evacuees. 

On May 12, 2015, a complaint was filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) before the Davao City Prosecutor’s Office, with charges of violation of Republic Act (RA) 267 or kidnapping and serious illegal detention and RA 9208 or the Anti-trafficking in persons Act of 2003, as amended by RA 10364 or the Expanded Anti-trafficking of Persons Act of 2012. 

Those charged are: Honey Mae Suazo, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Secretary General; Rev. Jurie Jaime, Promotion of Church People’s Response-SMR; Sheena Duazo, Spokesperson, Bayan-SMR; Ryan Lariba, spokesperson, Bayan Socsksargen; Tony Salubre, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-SMR; Mary Ann Sapar, Gabriela Women’s Party-SMR; Jaja Necosia, RCPA Productions-Broadcasting; Kerlan Fanagel, Sr., Secretary general of the Lumad group Pasaka; Sr. Stella Matutina, Panalipdan-Mindanao; Restita Miles, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines;  Isidro Indao, Spokesperson of Pasaka; Kharlo Manano, National Secretary General of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns and spokesperson of the Save Our Schools network; Rius Valle, Children’s Rehabilitation Center-SMR; Jimboy Marciano, SAMA-AKO-KMU; and Pedro Arnado, Chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-SMR, and, many other John/Jane Does. They are collectively called as “Haran 15.”

The trumped up charges were filed by Datu Kalumpot Dalon, Datu Laris Landahay, Libara Angkomog, Juvanie Angkomog, Toto Angkomog, Limar Mansomoy-at and Tata Angkomog-Lundia, all residents of Sitio Inayaman, Brgy. San Jose, San Fernando, Bukidnon. The complainants evacuated together with more than 167 residents from their town. They left the evacuation center sometime February 2015 and went back to their communities, where soldiers were still encamped. They were already under the custody of the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, under General Eduardo Ano, when they filed the complaint.

Attached to the criminal complaint is a so-called rogue gallery which contains names and photos of 55 other activists. The “rogue gallery” was created by the AFP Eastern Mindanao Command. The list is an assortment of names which includes the late labor leader Crispin Beltran and environmentalist Francis Morales, who died in May 2008 and November 2014, respectively. It also included National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace panel members Jose Maria Sison and Juliet de Lima who have been in the Netherlands since the 1980s.

In the complainants’ joint affidavit, they alleged that they received an invitation letter from a certain Kumander Jose on the last week of January 2015, for a dialogue with President Aquino, Manny Pacquiao and former Mayor Duterte at Davao City. According to the three complainants they were promised for free transportation, accommodation plus sacks of rice, grocery items, kitchen utensils and farm tools. In Davao, complainants said that they were brought to the UCCP-Haran compound, locked and padlocked, restrained to go out, theircellphones were confiscated, that their requests to go home were dismissed, and that they were ordered to join rallies. 

On September 8, 2015, Davao City Investigating Prosecutor Samuel Atencia issued a resolution dismissing the trumped up charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention and trafficking in persons for insufficiency of evidence. 

In the said resolution, Atencia stated that there was no actual confinement or restriction on the complainants, the alleged incident happened in the heart of the city making it impossible to have a kidnapping en masse, there were no armed guards to restrict the complainants’ movements, the persons charged were not properly identified, and the elements of the crime of trafficking of persons are not present. 

On October 20, 2015, only one of the complainants, Datu Kalumpot Dalon, filed a Motion for Reconsideration on the dismissal of the charges. On April 5, 2016, Acting Prosecutor of Davao City Loverhette Jeffrey P. Villordon, as designated by the national office of the Department of Justice, granted Dalon’s Motion for Reconsideration, reversing the dismissal of cases and indicting the Haran 15 and other John/Jane Does for the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention and recommending the filing of Information against them in Court. 

On May 31, 2016, the Haran 15, through their counsel Manuel Quibod, filed a Motion for Reconsideration. It was on June 28, 2016, during a forum on peace in Davao City, that a media practitioner showed Kerlan Fenagel a photo of a warrant of arrest against him and 14 others on the said trumped up cases. It was only then they learned that a warrant was issued. 

The warrant was issued by Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 10 Judge Retrina Fuentes on the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention. 

The next day, June 29, Haran 15’s counsel Manuel Quibod filed an urgent motion to suspend and recall implementation of warrant of arrest at the Davao City RTC Branch 10. They also urged to suspend the proceedings to await the DOJ Resolution on their Motion for Reconsideration dated April 5, 2016.  

Judge Fuentes granted the Haran 15’s urgent motion to suspend and recall implementation of the warrant of arrest against them until August 1, 2016. Yet, even before the warrant will again take its effect, wanted posters of the Haran 15 are distributed all over Davao City.
 
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is still implementing former President BS Aquino’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.