2 activists’ lawyer to military: Stop persecution, lies
MANILA, Philippines — The legal counsel of two environmental activists on Wednesday urged the government’s anti-communist task force to stop their “prosecution” and “do the right thing,” as the military plans to file perjury charges.
“We call on the NTF-Elcac to stop their persecution and to do the right thing and stop propagating lies,” lawyer Dino De Leon told reporters in a phone interview.
“All legal jurisprudence is against NTF-Elcac, so we enjoin them to actually not file frivolous cases that will just make them also ultimately accountable and liable,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines is planning to file perjury charges against Jhed Tamano and Jonila Castro, a lawmaker said on Wednesday, confirming a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-Elcac) official’s earlier statement.
Tamano and Castro, during a press conference organized by the NTF-Elcac on Tuesday, claimed that they were abducted by soldiers, contrary to the claim of the police and military that they surrendered.
De Leon also maintained that Tamano and Castro were forced to sign an affidavit.
“You cannot execute, really, an affidavit under the barrel of a gun if you are under state custody,” De Leon stressed.
“All jurisprudence would show that any sworn statement must be solely and willfully and fully understood by the ones who are executing it. Hindi puwedeng pinuwersa ka na tapos liable ka pa, (You cannot be forced and become liable) and they should be assisted by their counsel of their own choice,” he explained.
The Philippine Army denied that the activists were forced to sign the affidavit, pointing out that there was a Public Attorney’s Office lawyer present when the affidavit was signed.
Tamano and Castro, who went missing on September 2, reportedly surrendered to the Philippine Army’s 70th Infantry Battalion in Doña Remedios Trinidad, Bulacan on September 12, which both activists disputed.