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Arrests and abductions precede Aquino’s 4th State of the Nation Address — Karapatan

News Release, 18 July 2013 – Karapatan, through its chairperson Marie-Hilao Enriquez, raised alarm on the spate of arrests involving a former political prisoner and a farmer and the abduction and disappearance of another farmer and a tricycle driver in less than a week. “Will Pres. Aquino brag about these rights violations in his 4th State of the Nation Address?” Enriquez, also chairperson of SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto), said.

Aristedes Sarmiento, a former political detainee who was among the “Tagaytay 5”, was rearrested on July 16 in the house of barangay captain Julianita Abuel Lagaya at 51 Mabini St., Bgy. 7, Lucban, Quezon in a joint operation by elements of the Lucban Municipal Police Station, Regional Intelligence Police Regional Office-CALABARZON, Military Intelligence Group (MIG4), Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP), 1st Special Forces Company, 201st Infantry Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, Naval Intelligence Security Group (NISG 4) led by Police Chief Inspector Juan Byron Reyes Leogo, Officer-In-Charge.

Sarmiento was arrested for murder through a warrant of arrest signed by Judge Napoleon E. Matienzo of the Regional Trial Court Branch 62 in Gumaca, Quezon, with no bail recommended. Named in the warrant are Felicardo Salamat, Arnold Albarillo, Cecilia Mondia with a certain Ruben Estocado who was primarily charged.

From Lucban, Sarmiento was forcibly brought to Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba, Laguna through a convoy of military vehicles. Barangay captain Lagaya tailed the convoy up to Camp Vicente Lim but was not allowed to enter the camp. The military told Lagaya, Sarmiento’s family and his legal counsel that Sarmiento was not in the camp. Sarmiento was only shown to his family midnight of July 16 and only after the family members asked the camp to issue a certification that Sarmiento is not in their custody.

On July 17, Sarmiento was brought to the Gumaca court and was committed to the BJMP Quezon district Jail, Lucena City. He was again transferred today at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan.

In Bataan, two farmers and a tricycle driver were abducted by elements of the 703rd IB-Philippine Army on July 11 in Bgy. Liyang, Pilar. Josue Ortiz, 23, was brought to the 24th IB-PA headquarters where he was initially kept from his parents and members of the Karapatan quick-reaction team (QRT). After four days in detention, Ortiz was brought to the Bataan provincial court on July 15, and charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. As the judge is set to hear all cases for commitment order today, July 18, Ortiz was temporarily committed at the Balanga City Jail. Farmer Manuel Pacaira and the tricycle driver remain missing as of this date.

During the search, members of the QRT saw Pacaira in an army truck on its way out of the 24th IBPA camp and to the direction of Pilar, Bataan. He was again seen at the Bataan provincial court premises in Balanga, Bataan on board an truck during Ortiz’s inquest on Monday, July 15.

The 24th IBPA has been involved in the abduction and disappearance of two missing UP students Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno and the arrest, detention and torture of Raymond Manalo, a witness in the Sherlyn Cadapan and Karen Empeno case. The 24th IB has been designated in 2011 as a “territorial battalion” that integrates Army Reservists into the unit as “holding forces” in areas considered by the government as communist stronghold.

Earlier, on June 28, Juan Pablo Versoza, a member of the Alay Sining UP Diliman, and his wife Grace were illegally arrested in Marikina City through a defective warrant, with only aliases listed on the warrant. The names of the couple were only inserted in the warrant when they were arrested.

“This government practice of using alias warrants, illegal arrests through fabricated charges to justify its action against ordinary folks shows its desperation. This may be the start of the AFP’s another round escalation of its terror attacks against the people after it has admitted that Oplan Bayanihan is a failure. The human rights violations committed by Noynoy Aquino and his AFP is definitely an act of desperation, indeed a sign of failure and it’s turning its gun against the ordinary people, ” said Hilao-Enriquez. ###
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan chairperson, 0917-5616800

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) is an organization of former political prisoners in the Philippines. Founded on December 4, 1984, SELDA was initiated by newly-released political prisoners of the martial law period. SELDA’s primary task is to work for the release of all political prisoners and to see to it that humane treatment of those who are still in detention are complied with by the Philippine authorities. SELDA advocates justice for current and former political prisoners. It calls for the mobilisation of resources in support of political prisoners, former detainees and their families. It carries out legislative advocacy for the indemnification and rehabilitation of political prisoners. SELDA goes into partnership and builds solidarity with concerned individuals and groups for the freedom and welfare of political prisoners and all victims of tyranny.

SELDA National Office: 2/F, Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets,
Brgy. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
Tel: 632-4342837 Fax: 632-4354146
Email: [email protected], [email protected]

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