By Charissa Luci-Atienza
A partylist lawmaker appealed Saturday to judges handling cases of political prisoners not to allow themselves to be used as tools of political persecution.
Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao made the appeal after the charges against National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Rafael “Ka Raffy” Baylosis were scrapped, leading to his release from detention.
He said the judges should not allow themselves to be used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its counter-insurgency measures and political persecution of activists and progressive leaders.
“We laud the courage of Judge Editha Mińa-Aguba, for standing for the rule of law, competence and diligence, as well as common sense, that made her realize the ‘modus operandi’ of ‘tanim ebidensya’ of government security forces against activists,” Casilao said in a statement.
He described the ritual of planting evidences by government security forces as “unjust and insult to the intelligence of judiciary officials.”
According to Judge Aguba’s decision on Baylosis case, what a police operative “saw was more imagined than real,” referring to a gun alleged tucked in the pants of Baylosis. She said “it was made only solely to justify their police operations against the accused.”
Casilao also noted the case of Patricia Cora Casambre, wife of another NDFP consultant Rey Casambre, who was arrested in December last year and was eventually released.
The prosecutor said that the claim of alleged evidences, a gun, laptop, electrical cord were found inside the dashboard compartment of their vehicle, is a “preposterous allegation of complaints” that must be further investigated, thus, ordering the release of Cora Casambre.
Casilao also sought the dismissal of the case of “walking skeletons” or the charges of alleged 1980s mass grave in Leyte,
Among those accused were NDFP consultant Vicente Ladlad who was arrested in November last year; another victim of “tanim ebidensya,” former lawmaker Satur Ocampo, and peasant leader Randall Echanis; and Eastern Visayas peasant leader Dario Tomada, who was arrested in 2010 and incarcerated at the Manila City Jail.
“The case has been revived since the Arroyo regime, and is being used against activists repeatedly,” he said.
Casilao laments that with the increasing number of political prisoners under the Duterte administration, majority of are either peasants or from other rural-based sectors.
Karapatan human rights group said that there are more than 500 political prisoners in the country.
“The number of political prisoners is certain to upsurge, amid the Duterte administration’s political persecution, thus, we call on various sectors who aspire respect for human rights and just-and-lasting peace, to work for the resumption of the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP, address the root causes of the armed conflict, especially the socio-economic bases and the problem of chronic landlessness in the countryside, and the general amnesty for the anguishing political prisoners in the country,” Casilao said.