Despite orders, PNP refuses to free NDFP peace talks staff
National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace talks staff Alex and Winona Birondo have yet to be freed by the Philippine National Police from detention despite orders by Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office (QCPO) for their release from detention, their lawyers reported.
In a press statement, the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) said the couple were due for release last Friday, August 2, after charges against them by policemen failed to prosper in court.
Two sets of charges against the Birondos have been referred from inquest to preliminary investigation by the prosecutors allowing their release from detention, the PILC said through its managing counsel Atty Rachel Pastores.
“In separate orders, prosecutors were hard put to find probable cause against the Birondos who were accused first of obstruction of justice and direct assault and later of illegal possession of firearms and explosives,” Pastores said.
“Significantly, there is no evidence on record which shows that respondents were ever found of seen living in or were ever inside the searched premises where the items were found,” Assistant City Prosecutor Eviess JSA Acorda said in her resolution obtained by Kodao.
The prosecutor was referring to the firearms, ammunition and explosives the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) claimed they found in the Barangay Mariblo apartment were the Birondos were arrested last July 23.
On the charges that the Birondos assaulted police officers who raided their apartment, the QCPO in another resolution said the police did not only fail to mention if they identified themselves as PNP members during the incident but they also failed to fully explain how the couple were able to block the four officers.
“We take note of the fact that there were four arresting officers vis a vis the two respondents. Considering the disparity in numbers, there should be an explanation as to how the respondents actually blocked their way,” the second resolution, signed by Assistant City Prosecutor Arceli Bagsac, said.
Both resolutions directed the QCPD to release the elderly and ailing Birondos.
The PILC condemned the police’s refusal to follow the legal orders, saying that while the police have been quick to the draw with the arrest, but slow pokes when it comes to releases.
“Despite the clear orders, the Birondos remain in detention at Camp Caringal, with the police citing procedural requirements,” Pastores said.
“The police have been caught up in their own yarn of lies, which were starkly exposed under legal scrutiny,” she added.
Pastores said the police face significant counter-suits for violation of administrative procedures and criminal laws.
She also called on the government to stop the filing of trumped-up charges against those involved in the peace talks. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)