Sunday, April 11, 2021

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    Scientist Kim Gargar recounts detention, seeks justice against Aquino government persecution

    Groups and family showed support to physicist Kim Gargar who was arrested, detained and released on bail as he relate his case and calls on the dropping of made-up charges against him in a press conference today.

    Kim Gargar, a former UP professor and PhD candidate of Groningen University in the Netherlands was arrested by elements of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on October 1, 2013 at Brgy. Aliwagwag, Cateel, Davao Oriental while conducting a rehabilitation study on typhoon-Pablo devastated areas. He was then accused of being part of the armed group that the military fought with in a nearby village to where Gargar stayed.

    “I owe my release to the groups and individuals who tirelessly campaigned and gave their support in various ways,” Gargar said. “No thanks to the Aquino government who make it hard for political prisoners like me to regain our liberty and go about in helping marginalized communities.”

    Gargar was detained at Baganga jail, charged with illegal possession of explosives, several counts of attempted and frustrated murder and violation of Comelec gun ban.

    The Baganga Regional Trial Court found the testimonies of witnesses against him to be “full of material inconsistencies” and on August 1, 2014, Kim Gargar was granted bail and released after 10 months of imprisonment.

    “Despite the efforts of the government to suppress my freedom and keep me from doing my work, I am grateful to have lived with other detainees who are also neglected by the government,” the ex-UP teacher added.

    He lamented that, “The situation inside the prison cell is no different from the situation that led me to Mindanao in the first place. Almost two years after typhoon Pablo, people were left to recover by themselves without government help and are still seeking rehabilitation. My detainment has only strengthened my conviction to help others.”

    “After my ordeal, I now understand why there are increasing number of Filipinos who are critical of the government. But what I find hard to understand is why Aquino had to suppress and vilify those who want genuine change if he is really for the welfare of the country.”

    Gargar vowed, “to seek justice for my fellow inmates at the Baganga and Mati jails, express solidarity to other political prisoners all over the country and continue struggling for the survivors of typhoons and disasters in the country. ” He expressed his support to the calls for the resumption of GPH-NDF peace talks in order to address the socio-economic problems besetting the nation.

    Task Force Justice for Environmental Defenders (TFJED) spokesperson Leon Dulce emphasized that “the case of Kim is an example of the hostility of the Aquino government towards people who are either pushing for genuine reforms or opposing the current policies and projects of the state.” Dulce cited, “We have monitored at least 37 killings of environmental defenders and development workers who until know have not been granted justice.”

    This is not the first time that the AFP have falsely accused innocent scientists and researchers doing fieldwork in remote areas. Dulce cited the case of botanist Leonard Co, along with four companions, who were doing research work for the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in Upper Mahiao, Lim-ao, Kananga in Leyte province on November 15, 2010 when the research team was fired upon by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 19th Infantry Battalion who mistook them for members of New People’s Army. Co, Cortez and Borromeo were killed.

    In the press conference of the Free Kim Gargar (FKG) Alliance, the group said while colleagues, family and friends welcome Kim’s release on bail, the call on the court to drop all trumped-up charges against Kim still stand. The FKG campaign will also continue to the call on the Aquino government to uphold human rights and release all the political prisoners in the country.

    Kim Gargar
    physicist, member of Agham Advocates of Science for the People


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