By Joseph Cuevas
The Regional Trial Court Branch 100 in Quezon City dismissed the cases of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and companion Guillermo Roque.
In a 27-page decision last January 15, Judge Editha Miña-Aguba pointed out the illegality of the police surveillance and arrest.
The judge said evidence must be believable and must come from a credible witness, something the charges against Baylosis and Roque failed to show.
According to Public Interest Law Center (PILC) lawyers, the arrest against Baylosis and Roque January last year was illegal because the police insisted that the accused were roaming through Manila and Quezon City with guns tucked in their waists and toted around a bag of red rice with a grenade inside.
Baylosis’s defense poked holes into their story, pointing out not only lapses but grievous procedural mistakes, and thus exposed concerted, malicious efforts to fabricate the charges, the defense lawyers said.
PILC added that the dismissal of Baylosis case proved not only his innocence but exposes the police illegal actions, undue surveillance, illegal arrest, planting of evidences and filling of trumped up charges against peace consultants and political activists.
NDFP chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison said he is glad about the development.
“Mabuting nadismiss ang charges of illegal gun possesion sa kaso ni Raffy dahil napatunayan na planted ang evidence,” Sison told Kodao.
“Dapat ganoon din ang mangyari sa kaso nina Vic Ladlad, Rey Casambre at iba pang plinantahan ng mga baril at explosive,” Sison added.
Lengua De Guzman, daughter of Baylosis and convenor of Free Raffy Baylosis Committee, said they are looking to file counter charges against the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as all other participants in the fabrication of criminal charges.
The dismissal followed Judge Aguba’s decision granting the demurer to evidence last June 2018 in favor of another peace consultant Ruben Saluta and his companions who were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives, citing the broken chain of custody and inconsistency of witnesses’ testimonies against Saluta and company.
In November 2015, Judge Aguba also acquitted NDF consultant Eduardo Serrano in a multiple murder case for the failure of prosecution to identify him as “Rogelio Villanueva”.
Serrano, who was imprisoned for 11 years, died in detention last January 2016 due to cardiac arrest.
Baylosis was the first peace consultant arrested last January 2018 after President Duterte unilaterally terminated the peace negotiations and made a crackdown against peace consultants.
Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambrewere arrested in October, November and December 2018, respectively. #