Fellow scientists push for the dropping of physicist’s trumped-up cases,  decry military delay tactics

Agham Press release

25 March 2015

Scientist group Agham – Advocates of Science and Technology for the
People denounce military maneuvers that clearly aims to delay the
proceedings of physicist Kim Gargar’s case.

“The case has dragged on for more than 17 months despite the
prosecution’s weak and unsubstantial evidence. The military has time and
again inhibited the progress of the case. This is obviously a form of
harassment on the part of Kim Gargar and his family, designed to wear
him down and keep him from doing his duties,” said Noel Jalmasco of
Agham and spokesperson of the Free Kim Gargar Movement.

Kim Gargar, a former University of the Philippines professor and PhD
candidate of Groningen University in the Netherlands, was conducting a
rehabilitation study in Brgy. Aliwagwag in Davao Oriental, a
typhoon-Pablo devastated area, before elements of the 67th Infantry
Battalion of the Philippine Military came and arrested him on October 1,
2013 after a crossfire between the military and the New People’s Army (NPA).

He was charged with two cases of attempted murder, violation of Comelec
gun ban and illegal possession of explosives. Gargar was released on
bail August last year.

Friends and networks of Kim, including Prof. S. Poppema, President of
Groningen University has written letters to President Aquino attesting
that Kim is incapable of such criminal acts but the letters were unheeded.

“The four criminal cases were already found by the court to be
unsubstantiated by a strong evidence and failed to justify the illegal
arrest and detention. The Illegal Possession of Explosives is a
non-bailable offence but Kim was released on bail owing to weak
evidence. Yet, the military insists on their persecution,” said Jalmasco.

Previous case hearings were all postponed due to different
circumstances. In the most recent hearing on March 25, the complainants
from the military have again failed to show up and produce their witness
and testimonies.

The hearings are being conducted in the Municipality of Baganga, Davao
Oriental, which is 6-hours away from Davao City, where Kim Gargar, his
defense attorney, and the support groups are based.

“Delaying the trial not only prolongs the psychological impact on
persons involved in the case but also drains the defendant’s meager
resources, a substantial amount of which is wasted on travel. More
importantly, it is also a crime committed not only to Kim but also to
the marginalized people whom Kim is serving as a people’s scientist.
These people have long been victims of neglect by the government and
instead of supporting the advocacy of Kim to help these people, they
vilified him by filing trumped-up charges .,” said Jalmasco.

Jalmasco furthered, “The military could not produce a credible witness
yet there are additional five murder cases they intend to pursue.”

During the time Gargar was detained, a few days after his illegal
arrest, he was charged with five (5) counts of Frustrated Murder before
the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Davao Oriental. However, the
court downgraded the charges to four (4) counts of Attempted Murder and
one (1) count of Frustrated Murder due to insufficiency of evidence. On
August 1, 2014, the legal counsel of Gargar already submitted to the DOJ
a petition for review to dismiss the cases but until now, the DOJ still
hasn’t release its decision.

According to Jalmasco, “The arrest and filing of trumped­-up charges
against volunteer scientist Kim Gargar is a matter of great concern for
many field scientists, researchers and members of the academe. The
incident highlights the plight of many individuals who go to the rural
areas to render valuable services for environmental and community needs
but are vilified and harassed by military elements.”

“The brazen human rights violations under Aquino’s so-called
daang-matuwid are crimes against the Filipino people. Just as the
military is persistent on maligning Kim and propagating the culture of
impunity, we will continue to call on the dropping of charges against
Kim Gargar and upholding the rights of scientists and other political
prisoners who have dedicated their lives to serving the poor and
underprivileged,” ended Jalmasco.

Reference: Noel Jalmasco, member Agham Advocates of Science and
Technology for the People, spokesperson Free Kim Gargar Campaign

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