Political prisoner Eduardo Serrano testified yesterday at the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 97 to refute the false charges of kidnapping for ransom case filed against him. Serrano is the last witness slated to testify before the court finally resolves the case. Eduardo Serrano is among the 14 peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) who are currently detained. Atty. Rachel Pastores of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) facilitated the direct examination of Serrano.
“Due to my close association and passionate cause with the farmers as a farming consultant and lecturer-trainer-adviser to farmers’ organizations and rural cooperatives, and as a recommended NDFP consultant to the peace talks between the GPH and NDFP on socio-economic reforms, I was branded by the military and police as an enemy of the state and subjected to their harassments, surveillance and intimidations. This led to my arrest without warrant on May 2, 2004 by unidentified armed men. While in prison, I was slapped with trumped-up criminal charges of multiple murders, kidnapping for ransom and attempted homicide … But the truth will eventually absolve me of these criminal charges,” Serrano said in a statement dated May 5, 2014.
Serrano narrated that on May 2, 2004, he was arrested by unidentified men in civilian clothes. The men dragged and forced him into a van where he was blindfolded. He was brought to Fort Bonifacio. The following day, he said, the military presented him before the members of the media as Rogelion Villanueva, a member of the New People’s Army. Later, the military brought him to the 204th brigade in Oriental Mindoro, and then to the Regional Trial Court Branch 40 of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro where he saw a commitment order issued against him. He also learned that his name was already inserted in the information for multiple murder and frustrated murder, allegedly committed on July 2, 2000. Serrano is protected from arrest and other forms of violations against him under the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG).
Karapatan said Serrano is the longest held detainee among the 14 NDFP peace consultants who are JASIG-protected. “The case of the detained peace consultants is a violation of the JASIG and it shows BS Aquino’s refusal to go back to the negotiating table,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
In December 2013, Eduardo Sarmiento, also a peace consultant of the NDFP was convicted with life imprisonment for illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Sarmiento, who was a co-detainee of Serrano at Camp Crame, is now at the New Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa City. Other NDFP peace consultants who are in jail are: Alan Jazmines, Tirso Alcantara, Jaime Soledad, Pedro Codaste, Emeterio Antalan, Leopoldo Caloza, Renante Gamara, Alfredo Mapano, Edgardo Friginal, Loida Magpatoc and, Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria who were arrested in March.
As of end March 2014, Karapatan documented 489 political prisoners, 62 of them were arrested this year.
“The JASIG was signed to ensure the safety of the NDFP peace negotiators and consultants. But the continuing illegal arrests, detention and filing of trumped up charges to peace consultants and other individuals and, the continuing human rights violations prove BS Aquino’s idea of peace is to gag or silence dissent. Obviously, the presidency is occupied by a war freak who is unfit to lead,” Palabay said.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Floor Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central DistrictDiliman, Quezon City,
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.