6 more North Luzon activists facing rebellion rap allowed to post bail
BAGUIO CITY—A Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Abra province on Thursday allowed six activists to post bail after they were charged with rebellion in connection with the communist rebels’ ambush on military troops last year.
In his order, Judge Corpus Alzate of RTC Branch 2 in Bangued town cited the “similar” situation of the six activists and their co-accused, human rights advocate Jennifer Awingan, who was previously freed on bail.
On Feb. 2, activists Windel Bolinget, Stephen Tauli, Sarah Abellon, Lourdes Jimenez, Florence Kang and Niño Oconer filed a petition to post bail through their counsel.
The six argued they were only accused of being members and not leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines, making the rebellion case against them bailable.
Alzate set their bail at P100,000 each, which was the same as the bail bond that Awingan posted after her separate motion for bail was granted by the same court on Feb. 7.
Awingan was arrested at her residence in Barangay Pinsao Proper of this city on Jan. 30 based on an arrest warrant issued by Alzate against her and the six other activists, who are from the Cordillera and Ilocos regions.
Awingan, Bolinget and Tauli belong to the indigenous progressive group Cordillera Peoples Alliance, which is based in this city. Abellon and Kang are development workers, while Jimenez is a member of a regional peasant group in the Cordillera. Oconer is a correspondent for the alternative media online platform, Northern Dispatch.
The seven activists were charged with rebellion on Dec. 7, 2022, after S/Sgt. Christopher Druja, intelligence officer of the Abra-based Bravo Company of the Philippine Army’s 24th Infantry Battalion, named them as among the New People’s Army (NPA) rebels who ambushed four soldiers in Malibcong town of Abra on Oct. 7 last year.
The soldiers were on their way to assist earthquake victims in Abra when they were attacked.
Pfc. Reymond Galo and Pfc. Randy Cinco, who survived the ambush, and relatives of slain soldiers Pfc. Ariz Bautista and Pfc. Jimmy Viernes lodged a murder complaint against the seven and two NPA rebels identified as Jovencio Tangbawan and Salcedo Dumayon.
But the prosecutor junked the murder complaint and instead charged the accused with rebellion in an attempt to “overthrow the government,” referring to the seven activists as alleged “superiors” of the rebels who attacked the soldiers.
Initially, the court did not recommend bail for the seven activists. Awingan’s six co-accused remained at large prior to being allowed to post bail.