NDFP consultant ordered released
The Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 100 on Tuesday dismissed the charges against Rafael Baylosis, a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and Roque Guillermo Jr. saying their arrest was illegal with the state “failing to meet its burden of proving their guilt beyond reasonable doubt.”
In her decision, Judge Editha Miña-Aguba ordered the release of Baylosis and Guillermo from jail in Camp Bagong Diwa.
The court also granted the accused’s demurrer to evidence.
Following their release, a lawyers’ group is set to file countercharges against members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for “false implication” and “faulty prosecution” of Baylosis and his companion for illegal possession of firearms and explosives in January last year.
Baylosis and Guillermo were arrested while waiting for a ride in Quezon City on Jan. 31, 2018, after they were allegedly spotted with two .45-caliber pistols tucked in their waists.
Also allegedly found with them was a bag of red rice with a grenade inside.
The judge said the claim about the visibility of the guns was “seriously doubted” and improbable, and that the statements of the police witnesses were “peppered with inconsistencies” and were contradicting.
“[For] evidence to be believed, it must not only proceed from the mouth of a credible witness, but it must be credible in itself, such as the common experience and observation of mankind can approve as probable under the circumstances,” the decision reads.
In a statement, Rachelle Pastores, a lawyer with the Public Interest Law Center (PILC), said the judge pointed out the “incredulity of the police narrative of the surveillance and arrest.”
“The defense pointed out not only lapses but grievous procedural mistakes, and thus exposed concerted, malicious efforts to fabricate the charges,” she added.
Baylosis was the first consultant arrested after President Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace talks in November 2017.
Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Casambre were subsequently arrested and, similarly, falsely charged, the NUPL said.
“The dismissal of the case not only vindicates Baylosis, who has always asserted his innocence; it also exposes how the police carries out illegal actions—vilification, undue surveillance, illegal arrest, planting of evidence and filing of trumped-up charges— against peace consultants and political activists,” Pastores said.
Court decision welcomed
Relatives of Baylosis welcomed and celebrated the court decision.
“We expect the order to be carried out at the Metro Manila District Jail IV and that there will be no hindrance to his liberty,” Eleanor de Guzman, Baylosis’ daughter, said in an Inquirer interview.
The fight, however, does not stop with her husband, trade union organizer Marklen Maojo Maga, who is still detained on “trumped-up” charges of illegal possession of firearms and murder, she said.
“We all know that the charges and pieces of evidence against activists and other political detainees were just fabricated. We maintain that their arrests were illegal,” De Guzman said.
The lawyer’s group is also set to file countercharges against “erring officers” from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Manila and the Intelligence Service of the AFP.
Last year, the court also dismissed similar charges filed against peace consultant Ruben Saluta and his five companions for failure of the prosecution to prove its case.
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