DAVAO CITY — The Department of Justice dismissed the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against 15 human rights activists on Monday afternoon, July 18.
The DOJ resolution dismissed the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against the activists who were accused of forcibly holding the indigenous peoples evacuees inside the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran compound in Father Selga Street, here.
The ruling came three days after the camp of the defendants met with Department of Justice Secretary Atty. Vitaliano Aguirre in Manila on Friday, July 15. The defendants also submitted to the DOJ Secretary the affidavits of recantation and desistance of the complainants who were reportedly forced to file charges against the activists.
The resolution was signed by Prosecution Attorney Loverhette Jeffrey P. Villordon, Acting City Prosecutor of Davao City.
“With the desistance and recantation of ALL the complainants in this case, however, it has become apparent to the undersigned that, in this case, there has been no deprivation of liberty committed by the respondents upon the complainants,” the resolution reads.
Sheena Duazo, spokesperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan who is one of the accused, said the DOJ released the resolution around 5:00 pm, Monday.
Duazo told Davao Today in a phone interview that nine of the 15 accused received the resolution together with Makabayan bloc representatives, Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna Partylist and Rep. Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis Partylist.
Those charged include activists Rius Valle of Children’s Rehabilitation Center, Hanimay Suazo of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, Reverend Jurie Jaime of Exodus for Justice and Peace, Ryan Lariba of Bayan-Far South Mindanao, Tony Salubre of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Jimboy Marciano of Samahan ng mga Manggagawang Kontraktwal, Mary Ann Sapar of Gabriela, Jojo Encosio, Pedro Arnado of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Kerlan Fanagel of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad, Sr. Stella Matutina of Panalipdan Mindanao, Sr. Restita Miles, Isidro Indao of Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Kitaotao, Kharlo Manano of Salinlahi Alliance of Children’s Concerns, and other John Does.
“We are thankful for this favorable and speedy resolution of the case,” Duazo said.
Duazo said the DOJ resolution shows that the charges against them are “baseless” and were only meant to threaten the groups who are supporting the Lumad.
She said that they are planning to file counter charges against those who “forced” the complainants to file the case against them.
“Apparently the complainants were forced by the military and paramilitary members to file a case against us,” she said.
Duazo said they will also urge President Rodrigo Duterte to pull out military troops from the indigenous people’s schools and communities on the day of the first State of the Nation Address in Manila “so that thousands of Lumad evacuees in Mindanao can return back to their communities.” (davaotoday.com)