By Aldwin Quitasol
BAGUIO CITY — The Regional Trial Court of Lagawe, Ifugao province today acquitted two Cagayan Valley activists, apologizing for their unjust imprisonment for nearly five years.
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Cagayan Valley organizer Rene Boy Abiva and Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Opereytors Nationwide (Piston) Party Cagayan Valley regional coordinator Virgilio Corpuz were deemed innocent of charges of multiple murder, according to National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao.
Abiva and Corpuz were charged with 12 counts of murder at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Lagawe, Ifugao by the 86th Infantry Battalion and 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army.
The two were detained at the Bureau of Jail and Management Penology (BJMP) facility in Tiger Hills, Kiangan, Ifugao.
Abiva was an employee of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Region 2 and an ACT organizer of the in the region when nabbed on December 28, 2012 by the military.
He was tagged as one of the New People’s Army fighters who staged an ambush against the Philippine Army troopers in Tinoc , Ifugao in April 2012 that killed 10 soldiers.
Abiva’s DSWD daily time record (DTR), however, revealed during trial he reported for work on the day the Tinoc, Ifugao ambush happened.
Corpuz for his part was nabbed in his residence in Santiago City, Isabela by elements of the Philippine National Police Regional Regional Mobile Group on January 2013.
Corpuz, also a development worker of the Katinnulong Daguiti Umili ti Amianan at the time of his arrest, was accused by the Philippine Army to be a certain “Harold Castillo” who participated in another ambush.
“The State must be made accountable for the trumped-up charges and for the more than four years Abiva and Corpuz were made to suffer,” Malayao said.
Various progressive organizations also rejoiced at the acquittal of the two political prisoners.
“The Ifugao Peasant Movement, Cordillera Human Rights Alliance-Karapatan and Cagayan Valley Karapatan join the family and friends of Rene Boy Abiva and Virgilio Corpuz in their long-delayed release from BJMP Ifugao after nearly five years of detention,” the organizations said.
“The court apologized for detaining the two who have been falsely accused and jailed wrongly. The judge said if there were only a law to justly compensate the two, they would be compensated,” they added.
“Their freedom is the people’s victory. Their commitment to serve the people remains and their families are with them,” Cita Managuelod, Virgilio Corpuz’ wife, for her part, said. (With reports from Raymund B. Villanueva in Manila)