Free Kim Gargar Campaign
26 March 2015
Fellow scientists decry military delay tactics, push for the dropping of physicist’s trumped-up cases
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.
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 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).
The military insisted that he is a member of the rebel group and was charged with two cases of attempted murder, violation of Comelec gun ban and illegal possession of explosives.
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.
Gargar was released on bail August last year. 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. If the Aquino government cannot do this, we think it is but fitting to call for the President’s replacement,” ended Jalmasco.
Reference: Noel Jalmasco, member Agham Advocates of Science and Technology for the People, spokesperson Free Kim Gargar Campaign 09175240580.
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