Ailing political prisoner is victim of false arrest, planted evidence

Human rights alliance Karapatan slammed the continued detention of an ailing political prisoner who was illegally arrested on the basis of a warrant that does not contain his name, planted pieces of evidence and the perjured testimonies of police officers.

Fifty-seven year old trade unionist Ernesto Jude C. Rimando Jr. was arrested at his rented apartment in Brgy. Payatas, Quezon City on January 6, 2021 by six armed men in plainclothes who used a warrant in the name of “Allan Morales.” “Rimando,” said Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay, “is a researcher for the Alyansa sa mga Mamumuo sa Sugbo. He had been renting his apartment for a year and was in Manila to seek treatment for sepsis and liver cirrhosis, both life-threatening ailments.”

Palabay said that despite Rimando’s condition, the armed men who came to arrest him blindfolded him, bound his wrists with duct tape and began interrogating him and assaulting him physically at his apartment. They stopped only when they heard police sirens. “Rimando’s neighbors, who witnessed the assault, had apparently called the cops.”

The arresting team brought Rimando to the CIDG headquarters in Camp Crame where he was threatened and subjected to further interrogation by another set of policemen. “It was this second group of police officers who presented themselves as Rimando’s arresting team even if they were nowhere near his place of arrest,” said Palabay.

In his judicial affidavit, Rimando recounted that when he was brought to the inquest fiscal on January 8, 2021, he noticed that his black backpack containing his personal effects and medical records were brought along. Later, he was to find out that he was being charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, apparently on the basis of “evidence” that had been planted in his backpack. “Despite standing trial for two years, he has yet to see these pieces of ‘evidence,’” decried Palabay.

“Rimando’s rights have been violated multiple times. He is a victim of false arrest, since he is not the person named in the warrant used to arrest him. None of the so-called evidence in the illegal possession of firearms and explosives case he is facing was marked in his presence. He never signed an inventory of seized items. He was interrogated several times without benefit of counsel. On top of this, he is seriously ill and has had to be hospitalized a number of times during his two years in detention,” said Palabay.

Rimando’s trial at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 80 will be concluded in the next several weeks. His counsel, Atty. Maria Sol Taule, is hoping for a favorable verdict. He faces two other trumped up charges in courts in Region VII. Said Palabay, “Rimando deserves to be released on just and humanitarian grounds.”