Desperate Arroyo administration resume persecution of human rights defenders through renewed legal offensives

The human rights alliance Karapatan is outraged by the recent legal offensive of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration against the legal democratic organizations particularly in Southern Tagalog, including two of its officials namely Karapatan-Southern Tagalog Secretary General Doris Cuario and Karapatan-Batangas Coordinator Dina Capetillo among those falsely accused.

"The blanket charge of multiple murder and frustrated murder against known human rights defenders in Southern Tagalog is a desperate move of this bankrupt government to silence its critics," decried Marie Hilao Enriquez, Secretary General of Karapatan.

As the GMA administration has to respond to the national and international clamor to address the worst human rights record after martial law it was forced to slow down on its killing and abduction rampage. It has however, through the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), continued to fabricate criminal cases against its most vocal opponents.

On August 12, 2008, volunteers of Karapatan-Batangas discovered a complaint filed by a certain Marlo Timbreza in behalf on Globe Telecom Inc., against 27 leaders and members of progressive organizations in the region in relation to the August 2 bombing and burning of a Globe cell site in Lemery, Batangas.

On October 23, 2008, Atty. Remigio Saladero, KMU legal counsel was illegally arrested by virtue of a defective warrant of arrest on another trumped-up case of multiple murder and frustrated murder filed against 72 individuals involving an alleged NPA ambush in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. Most of the personalities implicated in the Batangas case were also included in this case.

Enriquez condemned the blatant violation of the victims' right to due process when in the court hearing of Atty. Saladero, the provincial prosecutor Josephine Caranzo-Olivar admitted that there was no preliminary investigation conducted as well as when the names of the 71 accused were included in the amended information.

Orly Marcellana and Arman Albarillo, whose loved ones were killed by state security forces in Mindoro under the command of Gen. Palparan, are also being charged along with the eight from the Tartaria 9, peasant activists who were abducted and tortured on August 31 in Brgy. Tartaria, Silang, Cavite.

"Under the Arroyo regime, the distorted priority of the criminal justice system is evident in its moves to prosecute human rights defenders rather than killers like Esperon and Palparan and thieves such as the 'Euro generals'," Enriquez said.

Karapatan likewise called the public's attention to the recommendations made by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions Philip Alston to abolish the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) that is orchestrating the fabrication of criminal charges against activists and critics of the Arroyo regime.

The human rights group also called on the management of Globe Telecom not to allow itself to be used by IALAG and Malacañang in the bid to criminalise human rights defenders.  It should now be clear to them that those they have charged are the wrong persons and they should waste no time in withdrawing their complaints.#