Laguna court frees 3 of ‘Lumban 6’
SAN PEDRO, Laguna-A local court has dropped the case against three peasant-activists who were earlier arrested and tagged by the Philippine Army as high-ranking officials of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Laguna.
Mariano Julongbayan, Nolan Ramos and Ruelito Soriano were acquitted of illegal possession of explosives that paved the way for their release on Friday, after spending three years in detention.
Glendhyl Malabanan, the secretary general of the militant rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog, said the court failed to find sufficient evidence to indict the three who, she insisted, were just “ordinary farmers.”
The five-page decision was penned by Judge Iluminado dela Peña of the Regional Trial Court Branch 28 in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Julongbayan and Ramos, who were 52 and 36 at that time, hired Soriano, the owner of the van that the three used when they were arrested at a joint police-military checkpoint in Barangay (village) Lewin in Lumban, Laguna around 5:20 p.m. on January 13, 2010.
Retired Lt. General Jorge Segovia, then the commander of the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, had identified Julongbayan as an alleged NPA finance officer carrying the alias Tito Garcia and Ramos, also known as Gerald Pastolero, as an alleged platoon leader of the communist guerilla in Laguna.
On October 6, 2010, three more activists, namely Darwin “Ka Tatcho” Liwag, Rey Malaborbor and Aries Suazo, were arrested by government troops also in the same village in Lumban, prompting the militants to collectively refer to them as “Lumban 6.”
Liwag, Malaborbor and Suazo, remain at the Laguna provincial jail in Sta. Cruz for charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Segovia, who bowed out of service last April, was known for the arrest of the 43 health workers suspected to be communist guerrillas in Morong, Rizal on February 6, 2010.
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