A local court issued the order for the immediate release of a political prisoner detained for more than eleven (11) years for trumped up charges filed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Marilou Runes-Tamang, presiding judge of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 98, today ruled that political prisoner Eduardo Serrano is NOT the accused Rogelio Villanueva and must be immediately released.
Serrano, a consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) for the peace process, was illegally arrested on May 2, 2004 based on warrants against a certain Rogelio Villanueva.
“As it stands now, we find Serrano not ‘judicially charged’ under any resolution, information or amended information… He was not also validly arrested as there was no arrant of Arrest or Alias Warrant against Eduardo Serrano. Clearly, Serrano was not restrained of his liberty under process issued by a court,” as Runes-Tamang read the resolution herself.
“The unjustified insertion of the name Eduardo Serrano in the commitment order issued by the (Mindoro) court as an alias of Rogelio Villanueva aka ‘Ka Makling’ only after the latter was arrested, sans a warrant and without the benefit of any preliminary investigation is too pathetic. It is an outright mockery of the basic human rights on due process of law which is enshrined in our Constitution,” the resolution said.
“We hope that this positive decision serves as precedent to other cases of Serrano, even to other political prisoners who were charged of crimes based on different names ,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said. “For example, Tirso Alcantara who faces forty one (41) different cases, many information against him indicated no direct participation to the crimes nor his name was even mentioned in witnesses’ affidavit,” Palabay said. She also mentioned the case of Miradel Torres, also a political prisoner, four months pregnant when arrested based on a case which her name was not included in any information.
Serrano still faces criminal charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder at Quezon City RTC Branch 100, multiple frustrated murder at Branch 215 and kidnapping at Branch 97. “We will manifest this order of judge Runes-Tamang to other courts where Serrano faces other charges for the presiding judges can take into consideration in their decision,” Atty. Amylyn Sato of Public Interest Law Center (PILC), the legal counsel of Serrano said.
“To be deprived eleven (11) years of your life for a crime allegedly committed by another person is unforgivable. Eduardo Serrano should immediately be released. We also urge other courts to recognize that Serrano is NOT Villanueva and order for his release. His incarceration is too long away from his family, friends, colleagues and the rest of the society,” Palabay ended.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay,
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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.