DAVAO CITY, Philippines — After the Philippine National Police (PNP) filed cases of kidnapping and human trafficking for illegally holding minors in Davao del Norte, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. France Castro, and 16 others were still trying to raise P1,440,000 for their temporary liberty, the group’s lawyer said on Saturday.
“There are 18 respondents so they need P1.440 million to be released while the complaint of the PNP is under Preliminary Investigation in the Prosecution Office of Davao del Norte. The focus now is to post bail and to answer the complaint,” Atty. Joel Mahinay of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao said.
Last Nov. 29, the police read the trafficking and kidnapping charges against Ocampo, Act Rep. France Castro, the Salugpongan community school executive director, nine volunteer lumad teachers, two other Act members and four Protestant pastors.
Authorities brought Ocampo’s group, collectively called as the “Talaingod 18” to the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office in Tagum City for the conduct of inquest proceeding.
On the same day (Nov. 29), Davao del Norte Provincial Prosecutor Norman Solis issued an inquest resolution detailing the violations committed and the recommended bail bond for the said criminal offense.
“Culled from the evidence presented by the complainant, there is a probable cause to indict respondents for violations of RA 7610, Article VI Section 10(a), being responsible person’s for the “Other conditions prejudicial to the children’s development,” the resolution reads.
Ocampo’s group through Mahinay was given 10 days to file their counter-affidavits from the day the inquest resolution was issued.
Mahinay said his clients had waived their rights under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, an indication that they would no longer question the legality of their arrest and detention and they would remain under the custody of the Philippine National Police in Davao del Norte.
Under the Revised Penal Code of the Philippines, Article 125 states that a public officer may be held criminally liable should he fail to deliver the person arrested to the proper judicial authorities.
“Among the charges filed by the PNP are kidnapping and failure to return a minor which are non-bailable aside from RA 10364 in relation to RA 7610 but the finding or the Resolution of the Fiscal after the inquest is only for RA 7610 which the bail recommended is P80, 000 each,” Mahinay noted.
Mahinay said they will question the legality of his client’s arrest contrary to the rumors circulating that the National Solidarity Mission team did not pay a courtesy call before the Office of the Davao del Norte governor.
“We will file our counter-affidavits in due time to question the legality surrounding my client’s arrest. In fact, they had their courtesy call before the Office of the Davao del Norte,” Mahinay said.
At present, Ocampo and eight males were detained in Talaingod, Castro and other four women were detained in Tagum City including the other women volunteer teachers of Salugpongan schools in Kapalong town, according to Mahinay.
Calls for release
In a statement on Friday, the Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services, Inc. or CLANS has called for the release of Talaingod 8 and hit the charges filed against them, saying “it is downright baffling to criminalize genuine endeavors such as solidarity missions.”
“The state’s actual intent is to decimate movements of human rights advocates, activists, teachers, students and other members of society,” CLANS Executive Director Geming Andrea Alonzo said.
The NSM case contributes to the many justifications of how Martial rule in Mindanao continues to worsen by the day, Alonzon said, citing “the 225 cases of attacks on schools within Region 11 affecting 4,275 students, 189 teachers and 201 PTCA.”
The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in a statement also condemned the illegal arrest of the Talaingod 8 and called for the withdrawal of the filing of trumped up charges.
“We condemn the illegal arrest, detention and the filing of trumped up charges against the delegates of the National Solidarity Mission (NSM) to Talaingod, Davao del Norte,” the RMP said.
“We call for the withdrawal of the fabricated case and the immediate release of the 16 members of the NSM team including ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro and former Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo,” the group added.
Meanwhile, the militant human rights group Karapatan in Southern Mindanao scored the military for distorting the Talaingod issue.
“10th infantry division through Ezra Balagtey once again showcased their forte in faking stories and scholarly prowess in scriptwriting.” said Jay Apiag, speaking for Karapatan-SMR.
“For a fascist and winner of mercenary tradition like Balagtey known for his high record of serious rights abuses and who have long been sowing terror in several peasant, workers, urban poor and lumad communities, notably in Talaingod, it is no surprise that Balagtey will again terrorize victims of rights abuses and criminalize lawful responses to the cry of the needy such as the efforts of legitimate organizations who joined the recent National Solidarity Mission in Talaingod,” Apiag added. (davaotoday.com)