By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BANGUED, Abra — Sherwin De Vera, the activist and writer who was illegally arrested last December 12, pleaded not guilty for the rebellion charge against him on January 3 at the Bangued regional trial court (RTC).
De Vera was illegally arrested last December 12 while on board a bus going home to Vigan City. He is placed under the custody of the Abra provincial jail.
De Vera’s rebellion charge included four attempted murder complaints filed by members of the 41st IB and 77IB of the Philippine Army. He was accused of being among the New People’s Army guerillas who engaged government soldiers in a firefight in four different incidents.
The 41st accused De Vera of participating in NPA attacks against their troopers in Cayapa village in Lagangilang town on January 30, 2013; Mabalo village in Malibcong town on May 30, 2013 and in Lenneng village in Licuan-Baay town on February 16, 2014 all in Abra province.
The 77th IB accused De Vera of participating in an NPA attack against the patrol base of its Charlie Company in Bucloc town also in Abra on October 25, 2013.
Prior to the filing of trumped up charges against him, De Vera has been subjected to surveilance, threats and vilification by state security agents. The harassment, surveilance and vilification aginst him started way back when he was a student leader at the University of Northern Philippines.
On June 20, 2014, agents from the NICA approached one of his relatives and asked about his involvement with progressive organizations and protest rallies in the region. The state agents also insinuated that he had links with the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
On July 18, last year De Vera had been tailed by unidentified men while he was going around on some errands in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. The following day, unidentified men believed to be military agents went to UNP in Vigan and asked De Vera’s whereabouts from the people he visited the previous day. Even his family and some friends noticed he was being followed around by unidentified men.
Human rights groups, environmental advocates and non-government organizations in separate statements issued right after his arrest have demanded for De Vera’s immediate release. The various groups and individuals attested that De Vera has been very visible and vocal in campaigns against destructive mining and human rights violations. # nordis.net