Victories in the dismissal of cases against development workers and the release of political prisoners bring hope—CPDG

December 2, 2021

December 2, 2021

The Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) hails Bayugan City Regional Trial Court Judge Fernando Fudalan Jr.’s decision to quash various criminal cases filed against 17 development workers in Agusan del Sur due to invalid arrest warrants issued against them and also their misuse by the prosecution.

Among the 17 were members of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap, Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Karapatan, and other organizations widely known for campaigning against human rights and who have become usual victims of red-tagging because of this.

Less than a week ago, last November 24, Gabriela Metro Manila leader Cora Agovida and her spouse, Michael Tan Bartolome of Kadamay Manila were acquitted of the trumped-up charges against them. Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 19 Judge Marlo Magdoza Malagar further said that such warrants used in the crackdown against activists are “susceptible to abuse”.

“The acquittal and release of several political prisoners is not only reason to celebrate but also vindicates us in our fight. Moreover, these legal victories show just how dubious so many of the warrants mysteriously issued by different courts really are,” CPDG spokesperson Liza Maza said. She added, “The judges who scrutinize these cases and stop the use of the legal system to harass activists should be lauded.”

Bartolome and Agovida, and less recently, Esterlita Suaybaguio, Lady Ann and Rodrigo Esparago were all arrested based on search warrants issued by Quezon City Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.

Aside from the plight of political prisoners, CPDG also sees an opportunity for the truth to come out in the Department of Justice’s decision to investigate 17 police officers involved in the Bloody Sunday massacre in Southern Tagalog. The DOJ’s Administrative Order 35 created a special investigation team to probe politically-motivated extrajudicial killings.

“The people’s struggle in reclaiming rights and demanding justice does not end with the freedom of unjustly incarcerated humanitarian and development workers or activists. That is only the first step. We should all persevere in holding the perpetrators accountable in our courts” Maza ended. #