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June 3, 2011
Case against 72 activists in Southern Tagalog revived

It seems that even the dead is not spared. On the first anniversary of his death, Rogelio Galit’s family received a subpoena from the provincial prosecutor’s office in San Pablo City.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

MANILA –Even in death, peasant leader Rogelio Galit is slapped with trumped up charges.

Galit, former spokesman of the Kalipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite, succumbed to diabetes and heart ailment on June 1 last year. On the first anniversary of his death, Galit’s family received a subpoena from the provincial prosecutor’s office in San Pablo City.

The subpoena orders Galit to appear in court on June 24 for a hearing on new murder and multiple murder charges filed against him and 71 other activists in Southern Tagalog. No details about the charges are cited, according to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Southern Tagalog.

Galit is one of the 72 activists charged with murder and frustrated murder in Mindoro last 2007. Collectively known as the Southern Tagalog 72 (ST 72), leaders and members of people’s organizations were implicated in the New People’s Army (NPA) raid in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental on March 3, 2006.

Galit, in spite of being bedridden at that time, was arrested on November 6, 2007 and detained at the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Jail. Six others, including labor lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr., were also apprehended. In February 2009, the local court eventually dismissed the case, citing a technicality in the filing of the information.

After three years, charges have been revived against Galit and the rest of ST 72. “No one in his right mind will do this to a dead person. This is a product of dirty imagination of the armed state elements,” Axel Pinpin, secretary general of the Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) said.

”This is what Oplan Bayanihan means, no different from Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya: continued repression of progressive individuals, filing of fabricated charges, extrajudicial killings. This is Aquino’s righteous path, straight to death and even the dead like Mamay Galit is still being charged with common crimes,” XL Fuentes, spokesman of Bayan-ST, said.

Recycled three times

In a separate statement, Karapatan-Southern Tagalog (ST), condemned the revival of the trumped up charges filed against 72 activists in the region.

This is the third attempt to file charges against the ST 72. In February 2009, barely a week after the release of Galit and six other political detainees, murder charges were filed against them in connection with the killing of a member of Citizens Armed Forces Geographical Unit (Cafgu) in Rizal. The case was also eventually dismissed.

On May 18, charges were filed again against 72 activists and endorsed by the regional prosecutor in San Pablo City, Laguna. Deputy Regional Prosecutor Fiscal Elnora Largo Nomorado issued a subpoena summoning all accused to respond to the charges.

“This move to revive the trumped up charges against our leaders strongly proves that the Aquino administration is out to continue Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s reign of terror by accusing them of crimes without any legal and material basis. This is a clear attack to the rights of activists and staunch critics of the government who only advance the struggles of the marginalized sectors in the country,” Malabanan said.

‘Deadlier’ counterinsurgency program

Malabanan said Aquino’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan is “deadlier” than Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya.

Malabanan said that the number of political prisoners in the region has already risen to 54.

On June 2, members of Bayan-ST trooped to the Regional Trial Court in Sta. Cruz, Laguna, in time for the hearing of murder charges against Darwin Liwag, secretary general of Bayan-Laguna and two other activists. Liwag and two others were arrested in September last year in Lumban, Laguna. According to Bayan-ST, firearms and grenades were planted as evidence against the three.

Karapatan-ST also recorded 11 cases of extrajudicial killings in the region.

“The mere fact that Aquino has not prosecuted the Arroyo administration for the thousands of human rights violations committed under its regime is already a blatant manifestation that Aquino has no intention of improving the human rights situation in the country. Not until Arroyo is incarcerated can he prove his sincerity in providing justice to the thousands of victims of political persecution in the country,” Malabanan said.

The groups demanded the immediate dismissal of trumped up charges against activists.

During Arroyo’s term, the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) was created to build up cases against activists. After his visit to the Philippines, then United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Philip Alston recommended the abolition of IALAG, saying the central purpose of the agency was to prosecute and punish purported groups who are considered by the administration as enemies of the state. (http://bulatlat.com)

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