January 18, 2019
Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580
Peace consultant Rafael Baylosis finally released from jail following court’s dismissal of trumped-up charges
“Finally, Rafael Baylosis is released! We also welcome the recent decision of the Regional Trial Court in Branch 100, Quezon City to dismiss the trumped-up charges against Rafael Baylosis, consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and his companion Roque Guillermo Jr. Said decision was penned by Judge Edith Mina-Aguba and it is an affirmation of our assertion that the case is fabricated and the evidence were planted,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. The trumped-up case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives filed against Baylosis and Guillermo was dismissed last January 15, 2019. After complying with the necessary requirements, Baylosis was finally released from jail this afternoon (January 18).
NDFP peace consultant Rafael Baylosis and his companion Roque Guillermo Jr. were illegally arrested on the afternoon of January 31, 2018. Baylosis, 69, is a member of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Group on Political and Constitutional Reforms. Guillermo was earlier released on bail in February 2018.
The court ruled that the inconsistencies in the statements of the three arresting officers who also served as the material witnesses cannot be ignored, with the Judge even describing an officer’s claim of seeing a gun handle in the waists of the accused as “more imagined than real,” further adding that this accusation was “made only solely to justify their police operations against accused.”
“The arrest was ruled illegal and it was determined that the witnesses have no credibility. This has been how the police have gone about in its legal offensive against activists and rights defenders as well. Through trumped-up charges, perjured testimonies and planted evidence, hundreds of innocents who have worked alongside the marginalized were also targeted and jailed. This trend has been exacerbated by the implementation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA),” Palabay noted. She explained that the cases of trade unionist Maoj Maga, the illegal arrest of the Sta. Cruz 5 composed of NDFP consultant Adel Silva, Ireneo Atadero, Edisel Legaspi, Hedda Calderon, and Julio Lusania, and the recent arrest of peace consultant Rey Casambre are all similar examples of the PNP’s modus operandi of planting evidence to justify their operations.
“If the Duterte government respected previously signed peace agreements, particularly the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), and did not go to extreme lengths to fabricate charges against those working for just and lasting peace, Baylosis would not have been arrested in the first place,” said Palabay.
Karapatan’s figures report that there are 540 political prisoners in the country as of November 2018, 120 of which are sickly while 40 are elderly. Of the 540, 7 are consultants of the NDFP.
“The release of Baylosis is a victory, but hundreds more remain languishing in jails across the country. Along with the kin of political prisoners, other human rights advocates and human rights lawyers, we will continue to work for the dismissal of charges against trumped-up charges against political prisoners. Likewise, we will continuously assert that the Duterte government should resume the peace negotiations and subsequently release all political prisoners in line with its obligation under the CARHRIHL and JASIG,” Palabay concluded.
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.