Philippines Supreme Court dared: Stop ‘prosecutorial terrorism’

Jun. 07, 2007

MANILA — The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today welcomed the pronouncements of Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno on the role of the high court in protecting civil liberties and stopping the trend of killings and abductions of government critics. The group said it lauded Puno’s resolve in checking the abuses committed mainly by the executive branch and its military.

We believe that the High Court can do more in terms of protecting civil liberties and in ensuring that justice is served for the thousands of victims of human rights abuses under the current regime. For starters, the SC can evaluate the record of the Department of Justice which is at the forefront of the unjust persecution of government critics, said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes Jr.

In particular, we urge the Supreme Court to look into the now common practice of abductions and arrests based on trumped up charges, spurious warrants of arrests and other legal short cuts. This kind of prosecutorial terrorism aimed at critics of the administration goes hand in hand with the already prevalent practice of extrajudicial killings and enforced disapearances, Reyes said.

Bayan said that the victims of “prosecutorial misconduct” include progressive lawmakers and leaders of activist groups including a pastor in Laguna who was recently abducted and tortured. Militant lawmakers from Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis are facing rebellion and murder charges before various courts. Other activist leaders in the provinces have been arrested and also slapped with murder and rebellion charges. Anakpawis representative Crispin Beltran has been in detention for 15 months now.

The filing of non-bailable charges of murder and rebellion against activists involves the connivance of the military, police, public prosecutors under the Department of Justice and even some justices of the lower courts. False witnesses, manufactured pieces of evidence and other legal shortcuts are often used by the prosecution and admitted by the courts, Reyes said.

The Arroyo administration is abusing the legal system by inventing false charges of murder and rebellion just so they can place government critics behind bars. Just imagine what the government can do with the anti-terror law at its disposal. More abuses are bound to happen, Reyes added.

The militant group aired this appeal a few weeks before the expected implementation of the new anti-terror law known as the Human Security Act set to take effect in July. Opponents of the terror measure said it could be abused and used to jail Arroyo foes.

Bayan urged the Supreme Court to impose harsher sanctions on public prosecutors and judges involved in the unjust and illegal acts amounting to the politically-motivated persecution of Arroyo critics.

The High Court must put a stop to abuses of the legal system that are only aimed at quelling legitimate dissent. The Supreme Court need not look far to find abuses. It can easily start with the abuses committed by the Department of Justice, Reyes said.

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