P1.41 million ‘excessive’, ‘humongous’
Lawyers and human rights groups asked the court to reduce the bail amount for three Tondo activists arrested in November 2019 to allow them to spend Christmas with their respective families.
In a joint motion, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) asked Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 47 Judge Paulino Gallegos to reduce the amount by half for each of them: From ₱420,000 imposed on Reina Mae Nasino and Alma Moran to ₱210,000 each, and from ₱570,000 to ₱285,000 for Ram Carlo Bautista.
The joint motion notes that it is “within the sound discretion” of the Judge to adjust the bail amount it originally set as the 2018 New Bail Bond Guide of the National Prosecution Service are merely recommendatory to assist the courts.
The motion added the three are full-time human rights workers, “earning only what was necessary for daily sustenance,” and they come from low-income, working-class families.
“Nakakalula. Hindi namin po kakayanin yon,” appealed Nasino’s mother, Marites Asis, who accompanied the filing of the petition on Wednesday, December 14.
Judge Gallegos ordered the provisional release of the three activists last Monday, December 12, citing the failure of the prosecution to prove strong guilt against the three activists on charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
The 12th Division of the Court of Appeals earlier said that the search warrant used in their arrest failed meet the standards of a valid search warrant, rendering all evidence gathered by the police raid “inadmissible.”
Political prisoner support group Kapatid said it is ironic that the poor and innocent have to stay in jail longer because they don’t have the money to pay for their freedom.
“But the rich and powerful like Imelda Marcos get a lower amount of bail though convicted for stealing 10.5 billion pesos of public funds,” Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said, citing the former First Lady’s bail amount of P411,000 upon her conviction in November 2018.
Rights group Karapatan said that while it welcome’s the Court order for the temporary release of the three activists, it found the P1.4 million cumulative amount as “excessive.”
“[T]he humongous amount being demanded by the court is tantamount to depriving them of the liberty they deserve,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
“In the interest of justice, we urge the court to reduce the Tondo 3’s bail considerably and allow them to spend Christmas with their families,” Palabay added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)