By RODA TAJON
VIGAN CITY — After 4 months of suffering in jail, two women political prisoners are finally free.
Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA-KARAPATAN), local chapter of human rights group KARAPATAN in Ilocos confirmed that Joy Attiw and Luinesa Bonella, two of the Cervantes 4, were freed after the Tagudin Regional Trial Court Branch 25 dismissed the rebellion charges against them.
The Cervantes 4 were illegally arrested and charged with trumped-up cases by elements of 50th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police-Cervantes.
Judge Modesto Quismorio, Jr., presiding judge of Tagudin RTC Branch 25, dismissed the complaint filed by joint elements of Philippine Army and Police alleging that Bonella and Attiw were involved in fire fight between the New People’s Army (NPA) and the 50th IBPA last September 2011.
The copy of the decision has yet to reach Bonella and Attiw’s legal counsel, Atty. Robert Tudayan.
Prior to the dismissal of the Rebellion charge, Atty. Tudayan filed a demurer of evidence, questioning the sufficiency of evidence to establish the guilt of the accused. According to the Demurer, the elements of rebellion were not proven in the instant case.
The Demurer questioned the testimony of the prosecution’s lone witness, PO3 Rene Waquisan and stated that, “even assuming that his testimonies were all true, are not sufficient to prove the elements of rebellion, neither was it able to prove that both accused had any participation of an alleged rebellion.”
Attiw and Bonella were released last February 11.
IHRA-KARAPATAN lauded the decision of the court. Mila Marcelo, its public information officer said that the dismissal of the court of the case of Attiw and Bonella is a clear proof that they were innocent of the trumped-up charges filed by the military.
“The decision of the court proved that the military’s accusations are baseless, fabricated, and aimed at harassing and instilling fear among innocent civilians.” She said and stressed that the arrest and detention of Bonella and Attiw were part of the Aquino government’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan.
“Oplan Bayanihan is no-different from its predecessor as it has launched blatant attacks against the people-from extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearance, illegal arrests and detentions, torture and other gross human rights violations.” Marcelo stressed and stated that the 50th IBPA indeed has committed other human rights violations aside from the arrests and detention of the Cervantes 4.
The families of Attiw and Bonella and human rights groups in Ilocos, meanwhile, confirmed that they will file countercharges to hold the military and police accountable for their violations.
Earlier this year, the families of the Cervantes 4 trooped to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-Regional Office 1 to file complaints.
“We will continue to fight until justice is served to the Cervantes 4.” Marcelo concluded.
The remaining two of the Cervantes 4, Hilario Bantew and Edward Galao, are still detained at the Municipal Jail of Cervantes, Ilocos Sur. Their cases of Multiple Frustrated Homicide and Illegal Possession of Ammunition are set to be heard come March 22. # nordis.net