Ombudsman junks case vs militants over ‘lumad’ evacuation | Inquirer News

Ombudsman junks case vs militants over ‘lumad’ evacuation

/ 12:05 AM May 28, 2016

DAVAO CITY—The Office of the Ombudsman has dismissed the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and several other militant leaders, which were filed after authorities tried but failed to force “lumad,” who sought refuge at Haran Center here, to return home last year.

Zarate, Datu Ginumao Andil of the lumad group Salugpongan Ta’tano Igkanugon, Sheena Duazo of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kerlan Fanagel of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad Organizations, Antonio Salubre, a volunteer at Haran, former Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador, Juno Marteen Vegas of the League of Filipino Students, and Malaya Genotiva of Anakbayan were among those who supported the lumad evacuees from Talaingod in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon.

In a 12-page resolution approved by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on May 4, the Ombudsman said there was no sufficient evidence or probable cause to prosecute the accused.


The complainant, Nora Tacay, had claimed that she and her then 14-year-old daughter  were among those who joined the evacuation in Haran, a facility operated by the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.


In the complaint, Tacay said they were prohibited from leaving the compound adding that living conditions inside the evacuation center were deteriorating.

She said when tension flared at Haran on July 23 after about 500 policemen and government agents, allegedly led by North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco, conducted a “rescue operation,” she and her daughter managed to escape.

But the Ombudsman downplayed Tacay’s claim.

“The allegation that the complainants escaped from Haran does not hold water,” the decision read.

The Ombudsman said that records showed “the lumad were given the option to leave or stay in Haran.”

The Ombudsman also said that a conspiracy among the respondents had not been established and it was clear that their efforts to help the lumad “are not tantamount to any criminal liability.”


“Neither was it shown that they (respondents) detained, or caused, or even ordered the detention of complainants at Haran,” said the Ombudsman decision.

“The dismissal of the trumped up charges against us is a vindication of our support for the legitimate demands raised by the lumad bakwits (evacuees) in Haran,” said Zarate when sought to comment.

“It was, on the other hand, an indictment of the bankruptcy and evil motives of the military, the Alamara paramilitary group and their cohorts, who used the already victimized minor and family,  in filing the false charges,” Zarate said.

It was the second case filed and dismissed against Zarate and the other militant leaders over the Haran evacuation.

On Aug. 18, 2015, police authorities here also filed serious illegal detention and child abuse complaints against Zarate and the other militant leaders at the city prosecutor’s office.

The complaints were based on the same affidavit signed by Tacay and her daughter. The militant group Karapatan earlier claimed that the girl was raped by soldiers and was among those who fled Talaingod, Davao del Norte, due to militarization.

In her complaint, the 14-year-old girl also said she had long wanted to go home to Talaingod with her parents but those who were running Haran would not allow her and other Manobo lumad to leave.

She also claimed they were not allowed to venture out of the facility.

Tacay said militants brought her and her daughter to Haran Center on July 7 last year to help them file complaints against a soldier who abused the 14-year-old. But they were later held against their will, she said.

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The city prosecutor’s office eventually dismissed the case for lack of evidence. Karlos Manlupig with a report from Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

TAGS: case, Evacuation, lumad, militants, News, Ombudsman, Regions

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