Rights group urge court to reinvestigate murder charges on chairperson and regional officer

Mar. 31, 2021

DAVAO CITY – Human rights group KARAPATAN urged a Davao City court to conduct a reinvestigation and recall the arrest warrants on their national chairperson Elisa Lubi and Southern Mindanao Region Secretary General Jay Apiag on charges of attempted murder.

The group filed a petition in court in reaction to an attempted murder charge filed on June 2020 by Corporal Elvin Jay Claud of the Philippine Army’s 89th Infantry Battalion, alleging that Lubi and Apiag were among the New People’s Army combatants they had engaged in a gunfight in Salapawan, Pagquibato District in Davao on May 20, 2018.

Claud’s sworn statement identified Lubi and Apiag alongside three other individuals to have been involved in the ambush as they took cover and exchange fire with alleged rebels.

Karapatan National Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that these absurd trumped up charges were only meant to harass and threaten as what the Duterte government has been doing to other human rights workers.

“Jay Apiag and Elisa Lubi are human rights workers. They are not combatants, and they more certainly not criminals nor terrorists-and many human rights workers like them are facing constant red tagging and trumped up charges from perjured and fabricated testimonies and even planted evidence supposedly seized during police raids on their offices,” she added.

Palabay pointed out that Lubi and Apiag were deprived of due process since they did not receive subpoenas to participate in the preliminary investigation of the case.

In Jay Apiag’s motion filed last March 12 together with Cristony Jun Monzon, the secretary general of indigenous people’s confederation PASAKA who was also charged, Apiag said that at the time of the alleged encounter, he was at Barangay Madaum,Tagum City to conduct a fact finding on the extrajudicial murder of Ariel Maquiran, a banana plantation worker

Lubi, in her motion filed in the same court on March 29 said that there are evidences confirming her presence in Metro Manila preceding, during and following the alleged incident.

She added that a 75 turning 76 years old person, and suffering from the usual conditions ailing people of such advanced age such as being overweight, hypertension and arthritis is physically implausible to engage in an armed combat.

“This attempted murder charge filed by the military is bereft of any factual basis. Clearly, these charges are pure hogwash and judicial harassment targetting human rights workers,” Palabay said.

Palabay said Karapatan officers and paralegals had been targeted constantly by the government with trumped up charges, including the trumped up cases against National Council members Daisy Valencia of Cagayan Valley, Teresita Naul of Northern Mindanao, Alexander Philip Abinguna of Eastern Visayas,and the arrests of its paralegals Nimfa Lanzanas in Laguna and Renalyn Tejero in Cagayan de Oro City.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. has also filed a perjury case on the human rights group.

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