rights defenders frustrate anew another trumped up charge

We, in the premier human rights alliance KARAPATAN-Central Visayas, hail the recent victory of human rights defenders over the evil forces of state terror with the dismissal of yet another harassment case orchestrated by the AFP-Central Command through its 79th Infantry Batallion in Negros Oriental.

We totally agree with the prosecutors’ office in Dumaguete City when it threw out early this month the trumped up charge of Rebellion against human rights activists “for insufficiency of evidence.”

There is no other way for the trumped up charge to go other than to the dustbin of court thrash.  Testimonies of the military witnesses were not only pock-marked with inconsistencies but also crisscrossed with sheer incredulity and ridiculousness.  As the prosecutor pointed out in the six-page resolution “PFC Rolando Melargo cannot identify the said respondents despite the fact that these respondents were just seated near and beside him.” In one outrageous instance in the second clarificatory hearing, PFC Melargo pointed at Atty. Marrietta Cabusao, of the Public Attorney’s Office, as one of the respondents.

The respondents falsely charged by the military and now cleared of any wrongdoing were Desaparecidos-Cebu chair Liza Badayos, artist Dante Yap, teacher Daretell Artajo, painter Jerry Jadina, development worker Cristina Munoz, and peasant boy Melvin Marquez, who just turned 18 years-old.

While the justness of our advocacy in promoting human rights is our most invincible defense against the continued attacks of vilification and harassment by the state, it is condemnable that these attacks continue under the new internal security program, dubbed OPLAN Bayanihan, of Pres. Noynoy Aquino.  While we could easily disposed of trumped up charges for what they are, it is a fact there remains 354 political detainees in the country–40 were arrested and detained during this supposedly juncture of daan matuwid.

Thus, we call on the government to stop its campaign of terror by junking its militarist program OPLAN Bayanihan; do justice to its victims by freeing all political detainees; and, observe the spirit of the yuletide by removing obstacles to peace negotiations.

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