5 progressives in Tacloban charged with keeping guns, explosives
TACLOBAN CITY –– Charges have been filed in court against five members of progressive groups, who were arrested last February 7 for allegedly keeping firearms and explosives.
The City Prosecutor’s Office found enough basis to elevate the charges in court.
Named respondents in the case were Marielle Domequil, 22, finance officer of the Rural Missionaries Philippines-Eastern Visayas; Mira Legion, 21, of Bayan Muna-Eastern Visayas; Marissa Cabaljao, 33, of People’s Surge; Alexander Philip Abinguna, 24, secretary-general of Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas; and Frenchie Mae Cumpio, 21, of Eastern Vista, an online news portal.
Cumpio, Domequil, and Abinguna were charged for illegal possession of firearms and explosives, while Legion and Cabaljao were charged for illegal possession of firearms.
Bail for the illegal possession of firearms case was pegged at P120,000.
Illegal possession of explosives, on the other hand, is a non-bailable offense.
All five respondents are detained at the jail facility of the Palo town police station instead of the Tacloban City Jail, which was already congested.
On Monday, Bayan Muna officials led by former congressmen Neri Colmenares and Teddy Casiño visited the five respondents in jail.
Colmenares and Teddy Casiño demanded the immediate release of the respondents, saying the evidence against the five detainees were fabricated.
Major General Pio Diñoso, the commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division whose headquarter is based in Catbalogan City, Samar, said the arrest of the five detainees were legal as they were armed with a search warrant issued by the court.
“We do not say that they own them (firearms and explosives) but they had those items during their arrest. It’s up to them to prove to the court that the evidence were either planted or not,” Diñoso said in a press conference.
Lawyer Marlon Bonsantog of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, a group created under Executive Order 70, which aims to end the country’s insurgency problem, dismissed claims that the evidence against the respondents were fabricated.
“That is just a standard defense and that kind of defense is weak. What we are saying is that before the police conducted their operation, they applied for a search warrant and the judge found probable cause to issue the warrant. Hence, there is an element of neutrality,” he said.
Meanwhile, Brigadier General Ferdinand Divina, chief of the Eastern Visayas police, said the respondents were leaders of organizations classified by the military as legal fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines- New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
He said the police in the region were preparing for possible retaliatory attacks from the rebel group.
“There are appropriate adjustments in the way we secure our police station. I will not discuss exactly what these security measures are, but they are sufficient enough to deal with any situation that may arise,” said Divina who anticipated retaliation from the CPP-NPA.
Edited by Lzb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.