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Lawyer, doctor refused from seeing Frank Fernandez

A lawyer assisting arrested National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Frank Fernandez complained of being repeatedly barred from visiting and consulting with her client at the Philippine Army General Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.

Atty. Kristina Conti of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers said that she has twice been refused from seeing Fernandez and his fellow detainees at the hospital even if she is allowed by law to do so.

“For the second time at Gate 6 of Fort Bonifacio, I have been denied access by MPBn (Military Police Battalion) chief Capt. Andres B. Ramirez upon instructions of his ‘higher-ups,’” Conti said on her Facebook account late Tuesday night.

Conti said that Captain Ramirez in fact told her she can visit Fernandez, his wife Cleofe Lagtapon and Geann Perez, who are all confined in the said hospital.

“Yesterday (Monday), he denied that a Frank or Francisco Fernandez was confined in the Army General Hospital. Today he reverses, but tells me that I can visit ‘anytime’ but only between 11am-4pm,” Conti said.

The lawyer said the military is violating Republic Act 7438, the Rights of Persons Arrested, Detained or under Custodial Investigation Law.

The law says lawyers, doctors, priests or spiritual adviser cannot be denied access any time, which Conti said Ramirez is disregarding.

“What’s roundly dissonant for me as a lawyer is the police posturing that this was a legitimate law enforcement operation, specifically arrest due to a lawful warrant. Yet, when I asked either Calabarzon Police Regional Director Edward Carranza or Laguna Police Provincial Chief Eleazar Matta for access they defer to the military,” Conti said.

Conti asked the military to be upfront if the three detainees are being treated as prisoners of war and under military custody instead of the police.

If the three are POWs, they should be treated as hors de combat, or out of action due to injury or damage, the lawyer explained.

’Wag nyo na kami paikut-ikutin, literally and figuratively,” she said. (Do not try to fool us and make us run around.)

Conti said she wonders what excuses the military will use the next time she tries to visit her clients.

Kelangan naka-sapatos? Naka-white? May strip search? Walang cellphone? Anong patakaran sa kampo na naman ang mangingibabaw sa civilian law enforcement/judicial orders?” she asked (Do I need to wear shoes? Wear white? Will they conduct a strip-search? What camp policies will they say lords over civilian law enforcement/judicial orders?)

“Martial law ba ulit?” she asked. (Is it Martial Law all over again?)

Doctor also turned away

Conti also revealed that an unnamed doctor sent to check on the three detainees was turned away.

“Earlier we sent a doctor, who came within the time stated by Capt. Ramirez, to check (on) the three. He was rebuffed, even if the inquest prosecutor’s resolution specified that Fr. Frank should see his doctor of choice,” Conti revealed.

Conti said Fernandez reported to the Sta. Cruz, Laguna inquest fiscal Monday evening that he is suffering from incessant interrogation by military agents, depriving him of sleep and affecting his general health.

Fernandez is reported to having heart and lung ailments the lawyer said need special attention.

“His condition, fluctuating BP (blood pressure) and all, is very worrisome. The military even had to pull into Asian Hospital on March 24 while they were taking him to Manila from Laguna because he was slurring his speech a bit,” Conti said.

The lawyer said it is suspected the former Roman Catholic priest and long-time NDFP spokesperson in Negros suffered a mild stroke or heart attack.

 “[Y]et he has not been allowed to choose a doctor or specialist. I am not too sure the Army General Hospital can take care of his needs – and in the first place, if it is in their interest (to do so),” the lawyer said.

Lagtapon is reported to be suffering from frail health while Perez is being treated for Hansen’s Disease.

Conti recalled previous clients who were sick while in prison and eventually died under detention.

“My experience with sick political prisoners is marred by deaths. Diona Andrea Rosal, stillborn, because his mother was under too much stress. Eduardo Serrano, Bernabe Ocasla, Alex Arias who suffered heart attacks in jail. My fervent hope is he does not join this mater dolorosa list,” she said.

She cautioned the military to treat the three detainees humanely.

“I understand the context is war – and two sides are at odds. Pero bawal bang maging makatao ‘pag magkaaway? Kung kaya ng isa, kaya din naman ng kabila, di ba?” she asked. (Isn’t it possible that both sides treat each other humanely? If one side can do it, the other side also can.)

Conti said that killing Fernandez while under government custody would not be killing the Communist Party-led revolution but is actually killing the peace. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Philippine Army holding Frank Fernandez incommunicado

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) strongly condemned what it calls the unjust arrest of another of its peace consultants and his companions last Sunday in Laguna Province.

In a statement, NDFP Negotiating Panel chairperson Fidel Agcaoili demanded that the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) immediately release Francisco “Ka Frank” Fernandez and his companions “as a matter of principle, justice and humanity.”

“Frank Fernandez is a publicly known consultant of the NDFP in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations as NDFP spokesperson in Negros,” Agcaoili said.

Agcaoili said 71-year old Fernandez has been ill for some time had to come down from Negros for medical treatment, accompanied by his wife Cleofe Lagtapon and Gee-Ann Perez.

Where are they?

The NDFP said details of where Fernandez and companions are incarcerated are still unclear.

“This poses grave danger to their health and lives. It is incumbent upon their custodial units to forthwith present Frank Fernandez and his companions to their relatives and lawyers in order for him to receive his medicines and assure that their rights and well-being are respected,” Agcaoili said.

Philippine National Police Region IV-A director Chief Superintendent Ted Carranza told reporters Monday that Fernandez was taken to the Philippine Army Hospital in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City after the arrest.

“Well, alam niyo kasi itong si Fr. Frank Fernandez ay matanda na. I just talked with an officer from the Philippine Army, nag-complain siya (Fernandez) ng chest pain after his arrest. So he was sent to the army hospital for treatment,” Carranza said.

It was not known whether Fernandez is still confined at the said hospital as human rights defenders and public interest lawyers are still being prevented from seeing the detainees.

In his press conference at Camp Crame yesterday, PNP chief Oscar Albayalde said Fernandez and his companions are under the custody of the Philippine Army’s Military Intelligence Group of Calabarzon reportedly based in Camp Eldridge in Los Baños, Laguna.

“With his unjust arrest, the Duterte regime runs the risk of adding another detainee to the list of three political prisoners who died in prison from June 2016, in violation of international humanitarian law and the minimum prison standards recognized by civilized nations,” Agcaoili said.

JASIG-protected

Agcaoili said Fernandez, a former Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Bacolod before becoming a rebel leader in Negros, holds Document of Identification Number PP 978544 as provided for in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) between the GRP and the NDFP.

Agcaoili also dismissed Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Junior’s claim that the JASIG is already inoperable in accordance with GRP President Rodrigo Duterte’s termination of the peace talks in November 2017.

Agcaoili said JASIG’s termination requires a protocol, a move the NDFP said Duterte failed to follow with his unilateral termination of the peace talks through Proclamation No. 360.

The NDFP Negotiating Panel earlier said the GRP has not formally given them a letter of termination through the Third Party Facilitator, the Royal Norwegian Government, rendering Duterte’s Proclamation No. 360 moot and the JASIG still operable.

“So, no matter how many times President Rodrigo Duterte unilaterally flip-flops from resuming and then terminating the peace talks, the JASIG remains in full force and effect unless otherwise terminated according to the terms of the agreement,” Agcaoili said.

“In fact the immunity guarantees of Frank Fernandez extend even after the actual termination of the peace talks,” he explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

GRP agents arrest NDFP peace consultant Renante Gamara

A National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant was arrested by combined police, military and intelligence agents Wednesday night two days after President Rodrigo Duterte dissolved his government’s negotiating panel with the Left.

Renante Gamara, NDFP peace consultant for the National Capital Region, was arrested by the Regional Special Operations Unit of the National Capital Region Police Office-Philippine National Police, Philippine Army and intelligence agents last night and was first brought to Camp General Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite.

An alert from peasant group Kasama-Timog Katagalugan said Gamara and his captors arrived at the camp at around 10:30 in the evening but left at about 11:06 in the evening.

The group said they have yet to know where Gamara was arrested.

Human rights workers who reportedly tried to check on Gamara were refused entry to the camp and were forced to keep vigil outside the gates throughout last night.

Their pictures were also reportedly taken by police officers.

This morning, a source close to Gamara’s family told Kodao that the peace consultant is currently detained at Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

Gamara was among the NDFP peace consultant released in August 2016 to participate in formal peace negotiations in Europe.

Gamara’s re-arrest brings to four the number of NDFP peace consultants behind bars.

Adelberto Silva, Vicente Ladlad and Rey Claro Casambre were arrested in succession late last year after repeated attempts to revive the stalled peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP failed.

Rafael Baylosis was first arrested in January 2018 but was eventually released last January 18 after the Quezon City Regional Trial Court threw out trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against him.

Twelve days later, NDFP peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao was killed inside a bus in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya last January 30.

Last Monday, March 18, Duterte dissolved the GRP Negotiating Panel and fired all its members.

In a statement Wednesday, new Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said the GRP has suspended the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) that should provide immunity to peace negotiators from arrest and harassment.

The NDFP for its part has repeatedly said that the JASIG remains in place until a month after both parties have mutually and formally agreed to finally end the peace process in accordance with agreed-upon procedures.  # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Activists express incredulity at Casambres’ arrest

The morning after couple Rey and Cora Casambre were arrested by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police, activists trooped to Camp Crame in Quezon City to demand their immediate release.

In their protest rally, the activists expressed incredulity in the brazenness of the police officers in presenting trumped-up charges against Rey as well as their lie that the couple was in possession of a gun and a grenade when arrested in Molino, Bacoor, Cavite early Friday morning.

The activists said that no way did Rey participate in an ambush by the New People’s Army in Davao Oriental last October. # (Video by Carlo Francisco)

 

 

 

Families, rights groups mark Political Prisoners Day

Relatives and human rights groups led by the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights marched to Mendiola in Manila, December 3, to commemorate International Solidarity Day for Political Prisoners and call for the release of all political detainees.

Karapatan said that political prisoners  are proof of an unjust system as well as double standards in which “rule of law” inevitably translates to the rule of rulers.

Recent cases of illegal arrests by the police and military’s continued use of planted evidence, twisted ploys, and ridiculous narratives to jail rights activists and progressive leaders of organizations and communities [are rampant},” Karapatan added.

Karapatan said that there are 540 political prisoners all over the country as of November 2018, 203 of whom were arrested under the Duterte regime.

One hundred forty of the detainees are sickly, 40 are elderly and 56 are women, Karapatan said.

Lengua De Guzman, daughter of National Democratic Front (NDF) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and wife of union organizer Maoj Maga, said that since November 2017 when Duterte implemented a crackdown against activists and peace consultants, fabricated cases and planting of evidences became the usual pattern of the state forces in their operations.

Aside from cases involving her father and husband, similar incidents happened to government employees organizers like Bob Reyes, the couple Oliver and Rowena Rosales, trade union organizer Ireneo Atadero, women advocate Hedda Calderon and peace consultants Adelberto Silva and Vicente Ladlad, de guzman said.

Karapatan reiterated that political prisoners should be immediately released on just and humanitarian grounds and as a matter of justice.

The Duterte government must also resume peace negotiations with the NDFP and stop the track of militarism against the people, the group said. # (Report and video by Joseph Cuevas)

NDFP’s Vic Ladlad talks about their arrest last Thursday

“Paglabag sa mga provision ng Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) ang pag-aresto sa akin at pagkukulong. Ang provision ng JASIG sa safety and immunity ay perpetual.

“Planted, itinanim, ang mga firearm at explosives na, diumano, ay nakuha sa bahay na tinatirahan namin.  Nakita naming nang ipasok ng mga operatiba ng Quezon City Police District ang isang bag na naglalaman ng ‘baby’ M-16. Maikli ang bag na kinalalagyan nito at nakalabas ang kanyon at bahagi ng katawan ng riple.  Nakalagay sa isang mahaba pero narrow na case ang isang riple na ang rifle butt at makikita sa likuran ng case. Nakita rin ng isa sa amin na inilagay ng operatiba ng QCPD ang isang pistol.”

Ladlad and companions say PNP planted guns, grenades

As expected, the Philippine National Police claimed that National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Vicente Ladlad was in possession of an assortment of guns and grenades when arrested in Barangay San Bartolome at around midnight last Thursday.

At their inquest proceedings at the Quezon City Hall of Justice Friday, however, Ladlad asserted the guns and grenades were planted by the PNP, as they did when his fellow NDFP consultants Rafael Baylosis and Adelberto Silva were taken.

The couple Alberto and Virginia Villamor were arrested with Ladlad.

Atty. Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of Public Interest Law Center and lead counsel of the accused, said there are clear defects and irregularities in the warrant presented before the Prosecutor. Atty. Pastores cited that her clients was not given a copy of the search warrant during the arrest and their constitutional rights (Miranda Law) were violated.

Atty. Pastores is hoping that the inquest prosecutors resolving to the complaint will grant their manifestions and will drop the cases against their clients. The deadline of resolution is on Monday, November 12. # (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

NDFP condemns Ladlad’s arrest, demands his immediate release

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) condemned the arrest of its peace consultant Vicente Ladlad along with couple Alberto and Virginia Villamor midnight of November 8 in Barangay San Bartolome, Novaliches, Quezon City.

The NDFP said Ladlad’s arrest is a flagrant violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) it signed with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).

The group also accused arresting officers of “planting” explosives on Ladlad to justify his prolonged detention on non-bailable offenses.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Ladlad was in possession of two assault rifles, two handguns, four grenades and assorted ammunition at the time of his arrest.

Ladlad is the third NDFP consultant actively participating in the peace talks to be arrested by the Duterte regime.

“Less than a month ago, Adelberto Silva, a member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms was arrested with five others in Sta. Cruz, Laguna on October 15 while conducting sectoral consultations,” the NDFP said.

A third consultant, Rafael Baylosis, was arrested along Katipunan Ave. in Quezon City on January 31.

Silva and Baylosis were also accused of possessing guns and explosives when arrested.

“Under the JASIG, Ladlad, Silva and Baylosis as duly accredited NDFP consultants publicly known to be involved in the peace negotiations should have been free from surveillance, harassment, search, arrest, detention, prosecution and interrogation or any other similar punitive actions,” the NDFP said.

Just two weeks ago, Ladlad’s wife Fides Lim reported being tailed by suspected state agents riding a silver Innova van with plate number TY 4585 as she left her house.

A check with the Land Transportation Office revealed that the number is registered to a red Honda TMX motorcycle.

In a separate statement Thursday, Lim challenged the PNP to conduct a fingerprint test of all the guns the arresting officers said they found in the house where Ladlad was staying.

“They will not find a single speck of his fingerprint in any of that trove because they were all planted to keep him locked up on non-bailable charges. They faked their evidence because they have no case against him,” Lim said.

Lim said the PNP failed to present Ladlad in a press conference in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig Thursday in time for Director General Oscar Albayalde’s birthday when their stunt “flopped”.

“[T]he PNP failed to present Vic because their publicity stunt flopped when the media began interviewing me right inside that room and I said that all those guns the PNP says they captured from him were all planted,” Lim said.

“I kept on insisting that all I want is to see my husband, to verify with my own eyes that they have not harmed him in any way. But the PNP maneuvered at least three times to get me and the media out of that room,” she added.

Lim said she told the media that the PNP is doing this because it wanted to display the “planted guns” on the tables inside the room and it did not want the feisty woman around.

“What is PNP Chief Albayalde so afraid of? The truth. Because he is a liar who manufactures evidence to justify their cases that are built on pure lies,” Lim fumed.

She added it was only after nearly nine hours that she was able to see her husband when they sped after the PNP convoy that brought him back to Camp Karingal to imprison him.

“Happy birthday, Gen. Albayalde, I’m glad I rained on your parade,” Lim taunted.

The NDFP said it demands its consultants’ immediate release and the dropping of “trumped-up criminal charges” against them to end their unjust detention.

The NDFP likewise demanded the release of four other “unjusty imprisoned” NDFP consultants Rommel Salinas and Ferdinand Castillo who are being held in BJMP facilities and Eduardo Sarmiento and Leopoldo Caloza who are incarcerated at the national penitentiary. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Activists demand freedom for NDFP’s Vic Ladlad

A few hours after news of the arrest of a senior National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) peace consultant became public, activists trooped to Camp Karingal in Quezon City to demand for his and his companions’ release.

Vicente Ladlad’s detention despite his safety and immunity guarantees from arrest and surveillance is an attack on the peace process, the activists said. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)

 

NDFP’s Vic Ladlad arrested


National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) senior peace consultant Vicente Ladlad has been arrested by the police, his wife Fides Lim announced on her Facebook account.

“My husband VIC LADLAD was arrested today, November 8, around 12 midnight based on a text I got. Status: MISSING,” Lim said.

Lim added Ladlad was arrested together with a couple in Doña Tomasa, Brgy. San Bartolome, Novaliches in Quezon City quoting the unnamed couple’s daughter.

“Arresting unit can only be the CIDG (the Criminal Investigation and  Detection Group of the Philippine National Police) which tailed me last week. PLEASE HELP ME LOOK FOR VIC,” Lim said.

Lim earlier publicly accused government intelligence agents of casing their house and tailing her around Makati City in their bid to look for Ladlad.

She added that her husband is a chronic asthmatic which has degenerated into emphysema and needs his medicines badly.

Lim warned the police not to “plant” firearms or explosives on her husband.

The police is known to charge NDFP consultants with possession of guns and explosives to prevent them from posting bail.

In a later post, however, media outfit Pinoy Weekly said Ladlad is being held at the PNP’s Camp Karingal in Quezon City.

Kodao sources said that Ladlad may be brought later today to Camp Crame.

Ladlad’s lawyers said he and other NDFP consultants have been taking “precautionary security measures” since President Rodrigo Duterte cancelled peace negotiations between his government and the NDFP last November.

Ladlad was later accused of being one of the top leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines in a government petition to have the group proscribed as “terrorist”.

Ladlad is supposed to be immune from arrest as a Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees-protected peace negotiator.

Earlier, senior peace consultants Rafael Baylosis and Adelberto Silva were also arrested by the police and military in January and October, respectively. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)