EDITORIAL | Justice blind or “blindfolded”?

www.nordis.net

Vicente Ladlad, a peace consultant of NDFP, was reportedly arrested late in the evening of November 7, along with elderly couple Alberto and Virginia Villamor, in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), a peace agreement signed between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines – Negotiating Panels, with the Royal Norwegian Government acting as host and Third Party Facilitator.

A Quezon City judge issued the search warrant against Ladlad and two others on November 6, for possession of firearms and ammunition as the police alleged. The customary evidence they use to justify the arrest and detention of peace advocates, rights defenders, activists, dissenters and civilians, also to put weight on the trumped up criminal charges, and for alleged drug bust shoot outs.

Lawyer Edre Olalia, one of the legal consultants of the NDFP Negotiating Panel, said that Ladlad’s rights under JASIG, the GRP’s Constitution, and international conventions should be respected, adding that “these serial arrests on peace consultants and activists complicate even further the prospects & status of the peace negotiations.”

Meanwhile some four days after (Nov.9), the special anti-corruption court, Sandigan Bayan, in a rare conviction, sentenced Ilocos Norte second district representative Imelda Marcos, 89, to serve 6 to 11 years in prison for each of the seven counts of violating an anti-corruption law when she illegally funneled out about $200 million in the 1970s as Metropolitan Manila governor. The court also ordered her arrest Friday. It was reported that she nor her representatives were not even present in Court. She told media after she got word that she plans to appeal the judgment, to avoid jail and lose her seat in Congress.

Since the 70s, cases of graft and human rights violations against the Marcoses, and some of the people they have worked with or were in cahoots with to this day, have never been received and swiftly acted on as the government people or agents have received and acted on the case of civilian Vic Ladlad and others like him. Where Ladlad is no wealthy politician, a robber, thief or murderer, but just an activist critical of government, an ex-political detainee, a human rights defender, non- government organization worker and a respected peace consultant for the NDFP peace panel.

While many ordinary citizens of good standing, people concerned for good governance and public welfare, along with their organizations, institutions, sectoral formations, etc. strongly condemn the inhumane and crude arrest of Vic Ladlad on trumped up charges. As they demand for his immediate release as well as the release of other political detainees, now.

Concerned citizens also see the Sandigan Bayan’s recent ruling on the case vs. Madam Marcos, as described by Representative Antonio Tinio, “The decision is too little, too late, or that much of the massive ill-gotten wealth remains in the hands of the Marcoses. Nevertheless, a guilty verdict is a guilty verdict. . . . It gives us a taste of justice.”# nordis.net

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