NUPL slams charges filed by father of Sagay massacre child witness
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) denounced the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed against NUPL Women and Children’s Committee Head by the father of a child witness in the Sagay massacre, saying that it is malicious and contrived with no legal and factual basis.
“These accusations of kidnapping and serious illegal detention are mere incredible concoctions of Sagay authorities with the clear intent to malign human rights workers and organizations that are genuinely helping the victims and survivors who would definitely shed light as to who the real authors are of the bloody massacre that took nine innocent lives,” the NUPL said in a statement.
The NUPL cited news reports saying that the biological father of the 14-year-old witness-survivor pressed charges against lawyer Katherine Panguban and human rights group KARAPATAN Negros on Wednesday before the Philippine National Police (PNP) Sagay and the Prosecutor’s Office.
The father, Vic Pedroso, alleged that he has been receiving calls from the child’s mother seeking help as they are supposedly being held against their will by NUPL and KARAPATAN, NUPL noted.
“These accusations are malicious, contrived and have no legal and factual basis to stand on,” the group said.
The NUPL clarified that the custody of the child witness was turned over to them on October 25 by the Sagay City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), in the presence of the child’s father himself.
The child chose to be with his mother since he barely knows his biological father because the latter abandoned them for ten years, NUPL added.
“We regret we cannot humor the PNP because this legal representation and turnover of custody are duly documented and are perfectly legal and in order,” the group said.
According to the NUPL, the mother engaged the services of NUPL, as represented by Panguban, in close collaboration and coordination with NUPL National and its Negros and Panay Chapters, and KARAPATAN.
The mother’s objective was reportedly s to help her take back her child after the father, without consulting the mother, turned over the child to the Sagay police and local authorities.
Meanwhile, the child’s mother has voluntarily executed an affidavit to put on record the “truth of the circumstances regarding the massacre,” and to “disprove and counter the lies orchestrated and perpetuated” by the Sagay authorities and the child’s biological father that they were illegally detained by their lawyers and human rights group KARAPATAN.
NUPL also said that mother and the child have voluntarily sought sanctuary in Manila, away from the father and the Sagay police who continue to “coerce her and the child” to return to Negros and be used and exploited as their “star witness” on falsified statements and distorted narratives.
“Lester’s mother simply wants to protect her child from this malevolent scheme of fact twisting,” the group said.
“Lest they have intentionally forgotten, NUPL reminds once more Sagay authorities of the important role played by lawyers in the quest for truth and dispensation of justice, no matter who or which power would be towed along the way,” the group added.
NUPL said it will stand by this case as it is yet another case of state-sponsored attacks on the legal profession.
“It will do well for these police officers to cease and desist from manufacturing tall tales that are nothing but a second-rate, trying hard cover-ups of their culpabilities and liabilities,” they added. /ee
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