Press release

2 August 2014

Detained physicist released on bail, group reiterates call for dropping of charges

Colleagues, family and friends welcome the release on bail of detained physicist Kim Gargar. They fetched him from the Bagangga jail, upon posting bail, afternoon of August 1, as groups and individuals, under the Free Kim Gargar (FKG) Alliance reiterate the call to drop all the trumped-up and baseless charges against Gargar.

“That the court granted Gargar’s release on bail, in spite the non-bailable charge against him of illegal possession of explosive devices, is an indication of how baseless all the charges against him are.

Still, this is only a partial relief, because the cases have yet to be heard,” said Noel Jalmasco, colleague, member of Agham Advocates of Science and Technology for the People and of FKG.

Kim Gargar, the former UP professor and PhD candidate of Groningen University in the Netherlands was arrested by the elements of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army on October 1, 2013 at Brgy. Aliwagwag, Cateel, Davao Oriental while conducting a rehabilitation study on typhoon-Pablo devastated areas. He was then accused of being part of the armed group that the military fought with in a nearby village to where Gargar stayed.

Gargar was detained at Bagangga jail and charged with illegal possession of explosives, several counts of attempted and frustrated murder and violation of Comelec Gun Ban.

He was represented by lawyers from the Union of People’s Lawyer in Mindanao all throughout the trial and assisted by Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region.

“Illegal possesion of explosives is a non-bailable offense but the court found the testimony of Gargar’s military accusers to be weak and incoherent. They accused him to have singlehandedly carried the 27 kg explosive devices, along with many others, when they admitted that there were many of them who carried the weapons from the site to their headquarters,” said Jalmasco.

“We attribute this partial victory not only to the fact that the military’s accounts and charges were false, but also to the tireless efforts of family and friends from Mindanao, Metro Manila and even Europe,” said Rog Amon of Center for Environmental Concerns Phils.

CEC-Phils is part of the FKG alliance and acknowledges that if not for the moral, material and financial help of allies, friends and networks, this partial victory could not have been achieved. The group said that if not for the groups who were willing to lend the money immediately then it would have taken more time to post the bail as several hundreds of thousands are still needed.

“We still have a long way to go to having the charges dismissed and still a lot of financial and material support to raise. We could breath more easily having Kim physically freed because we are assured that he is in the hands of friends and family,” said Amon.

According to the FKG’s statement, this is not the first time that the AFP have falsely accused innocent scientists and researchers on field in remote areas. The group cites the case of botanist Leonard Co, along with four companions, who were doing research work for the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in Upper Mahiao, Lim-ao, Kananga in Leyte province on November 15, 2010 when the research team was fired upon by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 19th Infantry Batallion who mistook them for members of New People’s Army. Co, Cortez and Borromeo were killed.

The FKG campaign is far from over said the group and they reiterate their call to drop the false charges against Kim all together.

“We call on the court to drop all trumped-up charges against Kim, as well as the cases of others falsely accused like him. Instead of commending scientists and experts who have selflessly chosen to work among the poor and marginalised communities the Aquino administration and his military men have been villifying them,” ended Clemente Bautista, of Kalikasan PNE and part of the FKG.

Reference: Noel Jalmasco, AGHAM, FKG spokesperson, 09175240580.

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