5 activists sue 7 army officers in Cebu, Negros before Ombudsman

News Release

29 January, 2009

Cebu City–Activists lodged before the local office of the Ombudsman various complaints against officers of the 79th and 78th Infantry Battalions since Monday.

also see related story: 5 soldiers sued at ombudsman

On Wednesday (28 January, 2009), KARAPATAN-Central Visayas filed in behalf of its public information officer (PIO) charges of Violations of RA6713 and Perjury 2Lt. Jaicris Jan P. Mendoza, 2Lt. Geomar Pipit, Sgt. Edwin Dulana, Sgt. Robert Villaver and Sgt. Alfredo Pakiding of the 78th IB based in Balamban, Cebu.

The counter-charge was in response to the trumped-up complaint of Murder the said soldiers previously filed against its PIO and 35 others, but which was subsequently dismissed by the court for “lack of merit” on July 12, 2007.

“These countercharges are protests over the government’s attempt to bastardize our judicial processes, which it is appropriating as a mere adjunct of its counter-insurgency plan BANTAY LAYA,” said Rev. Rey Gelloagan, Chairperson of KARAPATAN-CV.

Earlier on Monday (26 January, 2009), peasant activists Maritess Saingga, Wenceslao Tijome, Rodulfo Tijome and Miguel Bagacay, all members of the peasant group Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Payao-payawan, filed charges of harassment and illegal detention against 2Lt. Dugho and Sgt. Canangga of the 79th IB based in Siaton, Negros Oriental.

In the police reports attached to their complaint, the farmers were separately held and interrogated by Lt. Dugho and his troops from November 15-16, 2008 in Sitio Payao-payawan, Brgy. Nagbinlod, Sta.Catalina, Negros Oriental.

The farmers said they were baselessly accused by Lt. Dugho and Sgt. Canangga of being supporters of the maoist New People’s Army.

KARAPATAN encouraged other victims of political persecution to come out and stand for their rights.

It also urged the public to condemn attacks against human rights defenders and other political activists.

“The LGUs in Negros and Cebu should respond to the signal of their model president Barack Obama. They should come out strongly against manipulations of the 302nd Infantry Brigade to trample our democratic principles,” Gelloagan said.###

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