By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) has been asked to order the immediate release from detention of former Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) leader Rodolfo C. Salas in a petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by his son Jody S. Salas.
Known as “Kumander Bilog” as a leader of the CPP, Salas was arrested last Feb. 18 in Angeles City in Pampanga for an alleged 29 counts of murder in the 1980s reportedly committed by the New People’s Army (NPA), CPP’s armed wing.
Salas is now detained at the Manila City Jail. The Manila City Regional Trial Court (RTC) that ordered his arrest has set his arraignment on Feb. 28.
Not only was his immediate release pleaded before the SC, his son Jody also asked that the arraignment of his father and further proceedings on the charges be stopped.
The younger Salas’ petition was filed through the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), a legal advocacy organization.
A writ of habeas corpus is a court order “directing a person detaining another, to produce the body of the latter at a designated time and place.” The writ covers all cases of illegal or arbitrary detention.
It was not known immediately if the petition will be taken up in Wednesday’s (Feb. 26) full court session of the SC.
In the petition, the SC was told the elder Salas is being detained “in violation of his right to due process as a protection against hasty, malicious, and oppressive prosecutions, and his right against being put twice in jeopardy of punishment for the same offense.”
Only the writ of habeas corpus issued by the SC can remedy the continuing violations of the elder Salas’ constitutional rights, it states.
The petition also states that the elder Salas’ right to due process was violated when he was not given the opportunity to rebut the charges filed against him before the prosecutors’ office.
“At no point in the proceeding did Rodolfo receive any subpoena from the public prosecutor requiring him to answer. The first time he found out about it was in the news wherein he heard that there was a case filed against him in Leyte.”
The elder Salas was convicted of rebellion in 1991 and had served his sentence, the petition said.
It pointed out that by prosecuting him again, his right against double jeopardy (being charged with the same offense twice) has been violated.
“By placing Rodolfo in second jeopardy for murder when the State has actively negotiated for and entered into a plea-bargaining agreement that was used as the basis to secure Rodolfo’s conviction for rebellion in 1991 – a crime which absorbs and includes murder – the State has not only violated Rodolfo’s right against double jeopardy but also to due process of law,” it stressed.