Karapatan urges Tagum court: heed prosecution’s prayer to junk trumped-up murder charge vs rights worker Jackie Valencia

The murder charge against Karapatan National Council member Daisy “Jackie” Valencia and other human rights defenders is “plain and simple judicial harassment: it is a charge based on outright lies and it should be junked immediately,” human rights alliance Karapatan asserted on Thursday, as the group welcomed the findings of the prosecution in its reinvestigation report praying for the dismissal of the murder charge filed against them for lack of probable cause.

“With the prosecution’s report on reinvestigation, there is no denying that the murder charge lodged against Jackie Valencia and other activists and human rights defenders is pure hogwash. This case is clearly based on fabricated testimonies from the police and whose sole purpose is to harass the accused. A case that is shamelessly based on lies is a mockery of judicial processes and should be dismissed by courts,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

In the report on investigation submitted by Prosecution Attorney James Noel Morente dated May 24, 2021, the prosecution averred that, “[a]fter a careful perusal of the records of this case, this office is constrained to dismiss the instant complaint for lack of probable cause against the aforementioned accused-movants […] As shown by the respective evidences submitted by them, the accused-movants were able to prove that they were at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime.”

The fabricated murder charge stem from the alleged murder of Garito Tiklonay Malibato, a member of Karadyawan, an organization of indigenous peoples in Kapalong, Davao del Norte on March 22, 2018. Police Major Ruth Dizon, chief of the Kapalong Muncipal Police Station, filed the complaint based on questionable testimonies of alleged former New People’s Army (NPA) members, more than two years after the killing of Malibato.

On September 25, 2020, the Tagum, Davao del Norte Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 30 issued arrest warrants against Valencia along with indigenous rights defender and Cordillera Peoples Alliance chairperson Windel Bolinget, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s Lutgardo Jurcales Jr., peasant leader Reynaldo Garneng of Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon – Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Makabayan’s Agnes Mesina, and six other individuals.

On January 26 and February 2 and 5, 2021 Bolinget, Jurcales, Valencia, Mesina, and Garneng respectively filed their motions for reinvestigation and to recall the arrest warrants issued against them; the court granted their motions on February 19, 2021. In Valencia, Mesina and Gameng’s joint counteraffidavit, they asserted that, at the time of the alleged killing of Malibato, they were busy working in their respective residences in Northern Luzon — a thousand kilometers away from the place of the incident.

Palabay continued that “the prosecution already acknowledges that it was physically impossible for them to be within the immediate vicinity of the said incident — and similar outrageous stories have become the bases for numerous other trumped-up charges churned out by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict against activists, human rights defenders, and political dissenters in order to red-tag them as NPA rebels.”

“The Tagum, Davao del Norte RTC Branch 30 should urgently heed the findings and prayers of the prosecution in their reinvestigation report that this murder charge against Jackie Valencia and other human rights defenders should be thrown out and dismissed. Lies, political persecution, and judicial harassment should have no place in our country’s courts and judicial processes,” the Karapatan official concluded.