CANDON CITY (Jan. 25) — On the eve of her daughter’s filing of Writ of Amparo, elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) secretly transferred a political detainee from the Camp Crame Custodial Center to Candon City, Ilocos Sur.
According to human rights group Karapatan, the transfer of Elizabeth Principe, a peace consultant for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was conducted on January 22 at 11:45 PM on the eve of filing of Writ of Amparo for her release and for the protection of her daughter Lorena, and Habeas Corpus for her husband Leo Velasco, also a peace consultant, who was missing since February 2007.
Karapatan described the secret transfer as “illegal and suspicious since the authorities did not inform her lawyers.” Principe was brought to Candon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 for the case of rebellion, because according to the PNP, her arraignment is scheduled on January 23.
However, Karapatan said Principe and her lawyers have not been informed of this arraignment nor do they have copies of the supposed charge against her in Candon, Ilocos Sur.
“Her supposed transfer therefore becomes highly suspicious, especially since it was done during the night, when no one could have known.” Karapatan stressed in a statement.
Principe, 56, was abducted by elements of the military November 28 last year after she went on a medical check up in Quezon City.
The military presented Principe in a press conference and tagged her as a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The military also linked her to the Makati standoff of Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV. The abduction of Principe happened several months after the abduction of her husband last year.
Karapatan noted that both Velasco and Principe should be protected by the Joint Agreement on Security and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the NDFP.
Meanwhile, Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA), a local chapter of Karapatan, also condemned the secret transfer of Principe in Candon City.
“The Arroyo government only proves that they are the ones who commit abductions and enforced disappearances. With the government’s acts of impunity even among peace negotiators, it indicates the insincerity of Mrs. Arroyo to attain a just and lasting peace,” IHRA statement said.
Based on documents, Principe and Velasco, among others, were charged with rebellion on April 10, 1991 after allegedly strafing the house of Victoriano Jallorina, a member of the Philippine Constabulary (PC).
The court deferred the arraignment of Principe until the Supreme Court releases its decision over the Writ of Amparo filed also on that day. # Rod Tajon for Nordis