Stop the Crackdown!

THE CAVITE INDICTEES IN THE “MINDORO 72” CASE:

 

PORTRAITS OF COURAGE AND SELFLESS SERVICE TO THE PEOPLE

 

 

On October 2008, 72 persons including prominent activist leaders from the Southern Tagalog chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and progressive movements of peasants, workers, urban poor, women, Church people, and youth and students, as well as party list groups were indicted and are now facing arrest warrants for criminal charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder issued by the Calapan Regional Trial Court, while facing separate charges of arson, conspiracy to commit rebellion, and illegal possession of firearms and explosives before the Department of Justice (DOJ).


The trumped-up charges have targeted many of the prominent leaders of the mass movement in Southern Tagalog. This marks a renewed legal and political offensive against the most consistent critics of the Arroyo administration, after the regime and its legal and security minions recently suffered judicial debacles in its “legal offensive”, as in the dismissal of the criminal charges against the Tagaytay 5 and UCCP Pastor Berlin V. Guerrero; and in the grant of Writ of Amparo in the Empeno-Cadapan disappearance case. It should also be recalled that the Southern Tagalog region was among the worst hit by the wave of extrajudicial killings and abductions of activists from 2001-2007. The targets then were activist leaders, union leaders, peasant organizers, environment activists and urban poor organizers. As of March 2008, human rights group Karapatan -Southern Tagalog has documented 167 victims of extrajudicial killing and 31 of enforced disappearance in the region.

 

IMPLICATIONS

 

The current legal offensive against progressive leaders and activists in Southern Tagalog is not an isolated incident. It has been preceded by similar baseless criminal charges against BAYAN and other mass leaders such as in the provinces of Negros and Davao. It should also be recalled that trumped-up murder charges were filed against Rep. Satur Ocampo, peasant leader Randall Echanis and other progressives in relation to alleged mass graves in Hilongos, Leyte.

 

The cases against the ST activists are particularly alarming because of their wholesale and sweeping nature: almost all high-profile regional and provincial leaders have been charged.  Even more disturbing are the legal shortcuts and highly irregular procedures that were resorted to by the prosecutor in implicating 72 respondents without the benefit of any preliminary investigation and the hasty issuance of arrest warrants by the Calapan RTC, thus denying the accused their right to due process.

 

It appears that the principal impetus for the filing of these new cases against the 72 is consistent with the communist-labeling/demonizing being resorted to by the Arroyo regime and the state security forces. The cases portray and subsequently accuse legal activists to be members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.  But instead of simply filing rebellion cases against them, they are instead charged with common crimes such as murder and arson.

 

The objective is clearly to neutralize the activist leaders by detaining them illegally or forcing them to go into hiding.  At the same time, there is the intention to terrorize the remaining leaders, activists and the political mass base of progressive organizations and party list groups.

 

The Cavite Indictees: Some Common  grounds

 

There are eight indictees from Cavite in the “Mindoro 72” case, all working for people’s organizations and grassroots movements which have existed for years (some even decades) in the political landscape of the province. These organizations are advocating fundamental change in the iniquitous and oppressive environment that we are now in, both in the sectoral and broad political sense of the word change.

 

Because of this advocacy and militancy, these organizations and their leaders and activists have become “natural targets” for some power-hungry yet politically insecure state authorities and vested interests groups in our society. Some of them have become victims of human rights violations in the past; some of whom have been cold-bloodedly murdered due to their advocacy.

 

And due to their unceasing activism and selfless service to the people, these Caviteño popular leaders, activists and organizers have become “fair game” for the State’s continuing suppression of political rights and vengeful political persecution, in its mad rush to “crush the communist insurgency by 2010”.

 

Incidentally, yet more significantly to the case at bar, all eight Caviteño leaders have never set foot on Puerto Galera, or any part of Mindoro for that matter, much more and specifically they were not even near Mindoro on that fateful day of March 3 2006.

 

 

 

CAVITE INDICTEES

https://cemjp.wordpress.com/stop-the-crackdown/cavite-indictees/

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