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DOJ dismisses complaint vs Catanduanes gov over 1st media killing under Duterte

By Lottie Salarda

“We were not surprised anymore,” Catanduanes journalist Marlon Suplig said after learning that the Department of Justice in Manila dismissed the murder complaint against Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua and others over the murder of Catanduanes Now Publisher Larry Que in 2016.

What surprised them was the failure of the DOJ to notify them almost a year after its resolution, Suplig said.

Contrary to the Rules on Criminal Procedure requiring only probable cause for a case to be filed, Assistant State Prosecutor Alejandro Daguiso in a resolution dated October 30, 2017, said there is insufficiency of evidence presented by the complainants and it will be unfair to hold the respondents for trial.

Que was killed after writing a column alleging the negligence of the local officials over the discovery of a major shabu laboratory in the province.

He was the first vitim of media killing under the Rodrigo Duterte government.

The victim was shot by a motorcycle men-riding in tandem at around 9:30 in the morning near his workplace in Virac, Catanduanes.

On May 2, 2017, Edralyn Pangilinan, Que’s common-law wife filed a murder case against Cua, police officer Vincent Tacorda, Cua’s right-hand Prince Lim Subion and other “John Does”.

Gov. Cua (right, in gray shirt) announces his candidacy for governorship in the 2019 local elections. (Photo by Radyo Natin-Virac, used with permission)

After his arrest last year, Tacorda admitted he was instructed to kill Que under the guise of “Operation Tokhang” by Cua through his right-hand man Subion.

Que received death threats from Lim Subion prior to the incident.

According to Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS) Executive Director Joel Egco, Tacorda faced a robbery and extortion charges because he allegedly asked the family for 10 million pesos in exchange for evidence of Que’s death.

The extortion case filed against Tacorda was likewise dismissed. He denied all his extrajudicial confessions in his affidavit.

The complainants said they did not receive a copy of the resolution.

Suplig said they did not know that their complaint was already dismissed almost a year ago as they were not given copies.

It was Cua’s camp who announced the dismissal nearly two months before the filing of certificates of candidacies for the 2019 local and national polls.

The incumbent governor is planning to run for the same post next year. #

Int’l tribunal finds Duterte ‘guilty’ of slaughter and other crimes

The International People’s Tribunal (IPT) held in Brussels, Belgium found President Rodrigo Roa Duterte “guilty” in a two-day hearing held in Brussels, Belgium.

After hearing 31 testimonies and experts’ reports on Duterte’s alleged crimes, including his government’s war on drugs that has killed at least four thousand victims, as well as “essentially genocidal war especially among indigenous peoples,” among other charges, the tribunal said they found Duterte culpable of anti-democratic and anti-people policies.

“The consistency and robustness of the testimonies has unanimously appeared to us as to be so compelling to justify the deliberation of a clear verdict on the main responsibilities of the main defendants,” the tribunal said.

Although not a strictly legal and judicial proceeding, the IPT, composed of globally eminent lawyers and human rights defenders is hoped to draw more attention on the state of human and other social and political rights in the Philippines under Duterte.

Watch this video of the presentation of the verdict.

Families, human rights groups celebrate Palparan’s conviction

The families of missing University of the Philippines students as well as human rights groups celebrated when the Regional Trial Court in Malolos City, Bulacan found retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention Monday, September 17.

Cheers erupted when those gathered outside the courthouse were informed of the verdict on the case filed by Concepcion Empeño and Erlinda Cadapan, mothers of missing UP students Karen and Sherlyn, respectively.

Right after the promulgation, Palparan berated Judge Alexander Tamayo as well as the public prosecutor. (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas / Featured photo by Jinky Mendoza Aguilar)

GUILTY!: ‘Butcher’ Palparan, 2 others face reclusion perpetua

Retired Army Major General Jovito Palparan faces 20 to 40 years imprisonment after being found guilty of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for the 2006 disappearance of University of the Philippines UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeño.

In today’s long-awaited promulgation, Branch 15 of the Malolos Regional Trial Court found the notorious Philippine Army officer guilty of the crime, along with co-accused Lieutenant Colonel Felipe Anotado and Sgt. Edgardo Osorio.

Judge Alexander Tamayo also ordered the three to each pay P100,000 in civil indemnity and P200,000 for moral damages to the families of the victims.

Called “The Butcher” by activists and human rights workers, Palparan is believed to responsible for numerous other human rights violations throughout the Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas and Southern Mindanao regions where he was assigned by the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government.

Empeño and Cadapan, however, remain missing.

Photo by Jinky Mendoza / Kodao

Elated

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), private prosecutors to the case, immediately expressed elation over the verdict.

“We are extremely elated that justice has finally caught up with the coward Butcher. The law and evidence is not only on our side this time around but we are on the side of truth and justice,” the group said.

The lawyers added that despite tremendous odds and difficulties, the suffering mothers of Sherlyn and Karen as well as their supporters and lawyers have “overcome what seemed to be a wild shot at a rare chance to make Gen. Palparan and his likes accountable.”

“[May] his conviction be a signal to all other human rights violators especially of the worst kinds that rightful retribution will come in time,” the NUPL said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Pahayag ng mga pamilya ng mga biktima ng Ampatuan Massacre tungkol sa panandaliang paglaya ni Zaldy Ampatuan

Agosto 23, 2018

Kaming mga naiwang pamilya ng 32 mamamahayag na kabilang sa 58 kataong walang awang pinaslang sa Ampatuan massacre noong November 23, 2009, ay kinokondena ang naging desisyon ng Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 221 na payagang makalabas ng kulungan at dumalo sa kasal ng kanyang anak ang isa sa mga akusado na si Zaldy Ampatuan.

Labis na nagdurugo ang aming mga puso at sumasabog sa galit ang aming mga damdamin sa pagsasawalang bahala na ito ng korte sa aming mga asawa, anak, kapatid at kaanak na hanggang ngayo’y nagdadalamhati halos siyam na taon na matapos ang pinakabrutal na insidente ng pamamaslang ng mga mamamahayag sa kasaysayan.

Isang insultong hindi katanggap-tanggap para sa amin na malaman na ang isa sa mga nagplano ng karumal-dumal na krimen ay makalalanghap ng hangin ng kalayaan kahit sa maikling panahon para makasama ang kanyang pamilya, isang bagay na habambuhay na ipinagkait sa amin.

Ang mas nakalulungkot dito ay hindi namin ito inasahan at walang nagpaabot sa amin ng impormasyon na dumulog sa korte si Zaldy Ampatuan para umapela na bigyan siya ng permisong dumalo sa isang kasalan. Kung nalaman agad namin ito, hinding-hindi namin ito palalampasin at mahigpit itong tututulan.

Kaya ang tanong namin sa aming tagapagtanggol: Sino ba ang inyong kinakatawan sa kasong ito?

Tanong din namin sa korte: Patas at makatarungan ba na bigyan si Zaldy Ampatuan ng pribilehiyong hindi makamit ng ibang presong may mas magagaang na kaso? Makaaasa pa ba kami ng katarungan para sa aming mga mahal sa buhay?

Sana ay maunawaan kami sakaling may nasaling sa paglabas ng aming nga hinanaing tungkol sa tinatakbo ng kaso. Pero matapos ang siyam na taon at wala pang naparurusahan isa man sa mga maysala, aaminin namin na ang aming tiwala sa sistema ng hustisya ay lubos na nasusubok.

Pagkatapos ng masaker, tinaya ng mga eksperto na aabutin ng sampung taon o isang dekada bago may maparusahan sa krimen na ito. Nalalapit na ang panahon na iyon pero ang pagkamit ng hustisya ay nananatiling mailap.

Sa halos isang dekadang inaasam-asam namin ang katarungan ang bubungad sa amin ay ang pribilehiyong tinamasa niya. Ano ang dapat naming maramdaman?

Sa mga humahawak ng kaso, huwag naman po ninyo paglaruan ang kaso dahil hindi po nakakatuwa.

Reference:

Grace Morales
Asawa ni Rosell Morales ng News Focus 6
Tagapagsalita, Justice Now!

 

Ampatuan furlough alarms journos, rights groups

Journalists and human rights advocates expressed alarm over a four-hour furlough given by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC-RTC) to a primary suspect in the November 24, 2009 Ampatuan Massacre that killed 58 victims, including 32 reporters.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said in a statement it is concerned to learn that QC-RTC Judge Jocelyn Solis – Reyes allowed former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan to leave detention to attend his daughter’s wedding Tuesday, August 21.

“While we may understand a parent’s desire to be present at such an important milestone in the life of a child, we stress that the crime of which Mr. Ampatuan is accused of is of such a heinous nature that the shock and outrage it stirred around the world forced then President Gloria Arroyo to move against the powerful clan that was among her staunchest allies,” NUJP said.

The NUJP said it learned of Ampatuan’s furlough only through Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali who posted on social media a picture of herself with former ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan.

The caption read: “Alhamdulilla with my former Boss Former RG Datu Zaldy Uy Ampatuan during the wedding ceremony of his eldest daugher Bai Nur Aila.”

Rep. Sahali also posted video from the wedding, which she indicated was held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel.

“Almost nine years after the rampage that claimed the lives of 58 persons, 32 of them media workers, no one has yet been convicted. Yet a principal accused, Sajid Ampatuan, was granted bail. That and now this, we feel, gives us and the victims’ families more than enougy cause to worry about whether we can truly expect justice for this most grievous of crimes,” NUJP said.

Suara Bangsamoro and the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights also condemned what they call double standards in granting petitions for temporary releases from detention.

“Granting Zaldy Ampatuan a furlough, instead of conviction, is an insult to the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre. It also proves that under the Duterte administration impunity reigns as criminals and human rights violators such as Ampatuan’s boss, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, are allowed to regain and continue to consolidate their political power,” Suara Bangsamoro chairperson Jerome Succor Aba said.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay for her part said that while Ampatuan was readily given such privilege, “political prisoners were heartlessly denied of their appeals to properly grieve and pay their respects to their loved ones.”

“Andrea Rosal was disallowed to go to the cemetery where her child was interred. Joseph Cuevas and Eddie Cruz were not allowed to even go to the wake of their fathers. Of course, they were not in government and they are poor, so they don’t have the perks of hoodlums and killers such as the Ampatuans, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Juan Ponce Enrile, and Jinggoy Estrada,” Palabay said.

 

The Philippine Star also said Judge Reyes also earlier allowed Ampatuan to attend his daughter’s college graduation from the Ateneo de Manila University.

“We all know that most people accused of lesser offenses almost never get to enjoy a privilege as that granted Zaldy Ampatuan. What made him an exception to the rule?” the NUJP asked.

Sources said Department of Justice prosecutors objected to the petition for furlough by Ampatuan’s defense lawyers, to no avail.

Other sources said that both the prosecution and defense have submitted their memoranda on the case to the court, signalling that the resolution of the long-drawn case would follow shortly.

Judge Reyes reportedly has to rule on the memoranda first before announcing a promulgation schedule.

Reyes holds the Ampatuan Massacre trial in a special court inside Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Court dismisses double murder charges vs Makabayan 4

The Palayan Regional Trial Court (RTC) dismissed the double murder case against National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza and her fellow former Makabayan bloc representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casiño and Rafael Mariano.

In a decision dated August 8, Palayan City RTC Acting Presiding Judge Trese D. Wenceslao ordered the dismissal of the cases and quashed the warrants of arrest against the four.

“[C]onsidering that the evidence on hand absolutely fails to support a finding of probable cause against the accused-movants, the Motion for Reconsidetion (of the Order dated July 11, 2018 with Prayer to Quash Warrants of Arrests) is hereby GRANTED,” Judge Wenceslao ordered.

“Consequently, the Warrants of Arrest issued on July 11, 2018 under Criminal Case Nos. 1879-P and 1880-P against Saturnino C. Ocampo, Liza L. Maza, Teodoro A. Casiño and Rafael V. Mariano are QUASHED. The instant cases are DISMISSED as to the said accused-movenats,” he added.

Wenceslao, however, ordered that the arrest warrants against more than a dozen others who did not ask the court for reconsideration stand.

Dispositive portion of Judge Wenceslao’s decision. (Photo by Renato Reyes Jr.)

The four opposition leaders were ordered arrested by Judge Evelyn Atienza-Turla last July 11 after reversing her 2008 decision that the case does not meet her standards in finding probable cause.

Atty. Rachel Pastores, counsel for the four accused, said the case is pure harassment as the complaint was not even subscribed before a public prosecutor before it was filed.

“The complainants swore before the Philippine National Police and not to a public prosecutor. It was irregular,” Pastores said.

A Cleotilde Peralta and an Isabelita Bayudang alleged Ocampo, Maza, Mariano, Casiño and 18 other activists met in 1998 to plan the assassination of former Bayan Muna (BM) members who have left the party.

Peralta said her husband was ran over and killed in 2001 while Bayudang said her husband was shot to death in 2004 upon orders of the four accused and others.

In 2016, however, Peralta and Bayudang were found liable for damages in a civil suit and were ordered to pay P325,000 to Ocampo by Quezon City RTC Branch 95.

The QC RTC said Peralta and Bayudang lied when they alleged BM was already existing in 1998 when it was in fact created only in 2000.

The two complainants were ordered to pay damages to Ocampo, but have yet to abide by the court decision.

The two complainants have not appeared in court since then.

Peralta and Bayudang’s petition to have Bayan Muna disqualified using the same allegations was also dismissed by the Commission on Elections in 2008. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

 

Sr. Pat: You have to do something

By April Burcer

“You have to do something,” Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, NDS said during a solidarity forum held at the Ateneo de Manila University last June 29, Friday.

“You can’t stay numb when there are massive human rights abuses, injustices and poverty,” the missionary said at the forum entitled D’yandi, about the breakdown of the peace talks, injustices and human rights abuses plaguing the country.

Fox said that the challenge for church members is the determination what the role of the Church is when there are injustices, poverty and human rights abuses.

Fox has been the subject of personal tirades by President Rodrigo Duterte who infamously said that the nun’s God is stupid.

“We do have a little difference with the President about who God is,” the nun said, adding she is being forced to confine herself to church activities.

“They said missionaries like me should only be in barangays, teaching church doctrines, not be involved with the issues of society,” Fox said.

But the nun said she will continue her missionary work with the poor sectors of Philippine society.

“I cannot not be involved with the people who are oppressed, who are victims of injustice or of war.  My belief is (the poor people are) who God is,” she explained.

The missionary emphasized the need to be aware of the issues in the society, looking into the system and doing something about it.

“That’s what I thought I was doing. At this stage, the government doesn’t agree with this,” she said, referring to the attacks the government has been throwing at her.

Farmers and justice

Fox has been working with farmers and the poor for more than 27 years and she said she learned so much in the Philippines, especially the plight of the farmers.

“Why are industrious farmers still poor? Over the time I learned there were problems. There were people who said they own the land but farmers have been tilling that land for a long time so how can it be their land? The farm lands are far and the roads then are rough. How do you get your produce to the market? You have to sell to a trader at a loss,” she said.

She also worked with farmers of Hacienda Luisita and other missionaries on a fact-finding mission where some of her colleagues were arrested.

However, this did not stop Fox from continuing with her work.

“I believe that is part of our mission. How can we have peace, how can we have justice, if there’s no justice for the farmers?” she asked. #

 

Cagayan courts find political prisoner innocent

By NORWIN GONZALES
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY– After over a year in jail, David Soriano who was facing trumped up charges was declared not guilty of arson.

Soriano was declared not guilty in a May 10 decision penned by Judge Nicanor Pascual, Jr. presiding judge of Branch 8 of the Regional Trial Court in Aparri, Cagayan.

Soriano was charged with arson related to the burning of equipment belonging to BrosTan Construction in Gattaran, Cagayan on February 14, 2016.

Pascual questioned whether Soriano was in Gattaran at the time the crime was committed and whether he was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and served as its commander. Pascual ruled in favor of Soriano, citing that the prosecution failed to show evidence for its claims.

“Likewise, the prosecution failed to at least present any photograph of the equipment allegedly burned by the accused or at least his alleged companions if indeed, said equipment was burned. It was only bare allegations without any documentary or object evidence to support the same,” the court ruling said.

He was also charged with two counts of attempted murder for an ambush also in Gattaran, Cagayan, this time in RTC Branch 9. Pascual also dismissed the case for lack of evidence in a March 15 ruling.

However, freedom is yet to come for Soriano as he is still currently being tried at the RTC Branch 10 in Tuguegarao City, this time for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives related to his arrest in May 2017 in Peñablanca. Cagayan.

He was also implicated in an ambush against Philippine National Police elements in Baggao, Cagayan on February 16, 2016.

In his affidavit, Soriano said that he was in Baguio City from February 12 to 14, 2016 attending a North Luzon summit and traveled back to Isabela on February 15, 2016.

“Let us continue to call for the release of all political prisoners amidst the tyranny of the US-Duterte regime,” Karapatan-Cagayan Valley in a statement said.# nordis.net

Martial law victims start claiming compensation

Hundreds of Martial Law human rights violations victims trooped to the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City Friday to start claiming their compensations.

Following the release of the initial list of 4,000 eligible claimants by the Human Rights Victims Claims Board earlier this month, cheques are now being distributed to survivors of Martial Law atrocities under the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s to the 1980s.

The Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) approved 11,103 of about 75,730 claims filed with the board, its chair Lina Sarmiento announced.

Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 ordered the payment of reparation to the thousands of victims from the 10 billion pesos Marcos funds given back to the Philippine government by Swiss banks.

The amounts being paid to claimants range from P176,000 for illegal arrest victims (1 point) to as much as P1.76 million for killed relatives (10 points). # (Raymund B. Villanueva / Photos by Mon Ramirez-Arkibong Bayan)