Court rescinds arrest warrants vs human rights activists, peace advocates
MANILA, Philippines—The Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur Regional Trial Court has rescinded the arrest order against human rights activists and peace advocates tagged in the 2018 raid and torching of a military facility in Sibagat, Agusan del Sur.
In its ruling, the court said, based on the evidence presented by the authorities, “have led this Court to reasonable believe that accused have not committed the offense.”
“The Court, in weighing the facts and circumstances obtaining in these cases, is of the opinion that the warrants issued for their arrest suffered a constitutional defect,” said acting Executive Judge Fernando Fudalan Jr. of Bayugan City Agusan del Sur RTC Branch 7.
The court said the complaints filed by the government and affidavits of witnesses failed to indicate “with clarity” the names of the accused and the exact addresses.
“The inadequacy of the affidavits regarding complete information of the accused makes out a warrant that simply described the accused with their alleged aliases and erroneous addresses,” the court said.
With the quashal of the arrest warrants, the court ordered the release of Cleared for serious illegal detention and kidnapping includes Teresita Naul, Aldeem Yanez, Ireneo Sagulay Udarbe, Aida Esmael Ibrahim, Jumoring Guaynon, Mylene Coleta, Jerry Basahon, Gerald Basahon, Hanilyn Caspedes, Ophelia Tabagon, Ritchel Hilogon, Cecelia Acenas, Wildon Barros, Francisco Pagayaman, Reywynx Morgado, Mujahid Caballero.
The court also quashed the arrest warrants for Alfredo Mapano, Jimboy Acebes, Urcyril Dave Habagat, and Jonie Tumanan.
The court ordered the immediate release of all the accused unless held for another ground.
The Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in Mindanao lauded Judge Fudalan’s decision exhibiting his “judicial probity and courage in ordering the dismissal of the Sibagat cases thereby according to justice to the concerned victims of state harassments and persecution simply for advocating social justice and respect for life and dignity, and ultimately, upholding the Rule of Law.”
CIVICUS, a global civil society alliance, said the arrest of Naul and the other advocates “highlight how activists in the Philippines are often vilified and criminalized for their activism” under the current administration.
“We welcome the news of the release of activist Teresita Naul. She spent nearly nineteen months in jail – on trumped-up charges – when she shouldn’t even have been detained for a day. This was an outrageous travesty of justice and an appalling way to treat a human rights defender who has dedicated her life to working for the poorest. Her detention during a global pandemic also put her life at risk,” said Josef Benedict, Asia Pacific Researcher for CIVICUS.
This is not the first time various courts have dismissed cases against activists and members of cause-oriented groups that the police and military labeled as having ties with the communist organizations.
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