6 alleged communist rebels plead not guilty to illegal firearms raps in Negros Occidental court
CEBU CITY – The six persons tagged as communist rebels and arrested by the military in Mabinay town, Negros Oriental pleaded not guilty to charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Myles Albasin, 21; Carlo Ybañez, 18; Ajomar Indico, 29; Randel Hermino, 19; Joel Baylosis, 18; and Bernard Guillen, 18, were arraigned before Judge Rosario Santos Carriaga of the Regional Trial Court Branch 75 in Bais City on Wednesday afternoon.
They were assisted by their lawyer Ben Ramos. The pre-trial was set on July 11.
Albasin’s mother Grace, said in a phone interview that they continued to hope that all six accused would be eventually exonerated.
“My daughter simply expressed her love to our nation, the society, and the Filipino people. What can we do, some people didn’t like it,” she told the Inquirer.
“Planting of evidence has become the new normal. We hope that they (accused) will be cleared although it will take some time,” she added.
The six accused were arrested in what the 62nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army was a shoot-out in the hinterland of Mabinay town on March 3, a claim belied by Albasin’s family and friends.
The military said they recovered four M-16 assault rifles with M-203 grenade launcher, and two M-4 assault rifles from the respondents.
But results of the paraffin tests conducted by Negros Oriental Provincial Crime Laboratory negated the claim of the military of a shoot-out as all five respondents tested negative for gunpowder residue.
Despite the findings of the crime laboratory, the Negros Oriental Provincial Prosecutor’s Office still found sufficient basis to indict the respondents.
The cases against the accused were formally elevated to the trial court last month.
No bail was recommended.
Albasin is a Mass Communication graduate of the University of the Philippines Cebu and was a secretary-general of Anakbayan Cebu.
Grace said Myles and the other respondents were in Negros Oriental for an immersion program with the farmers there on the day they were arrested.
But Col. Medel Aguilar, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ Central Command, repeatedly maintained that there was basis to arrest the suspects. He challenged the accused to prove their innocence in court.
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