Govt exploiting justice system to persecute dissenters, says lawmaker

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10/24/2008 | 02:40 PM

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker on Friday accused the Arroyo government of “exploiting the justice system” to persecute political dissenters.

Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano said the latest victim of such tactic is labor lawyer Remigio “Meng ” Saladero Jr., the chief legal counsel of militant labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and also a lawyer of Anakpawis.

Saladero was arrested Thursday afternoon in Antipolo by combined elements of the Antipolo Police and Military Intelligence Group 4A of the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP).

Mariano said Saladero was arrested on the strength of a warrant issued by a court in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro where he was charged with multiple murder, frustrated murder with no bail recommended.

Saladero was detained at Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna until Thursday morning and was “hurriedly transferred” to Mindoro for a hearing on the cases against him, said Mariano.

Saladero, along with 26 other leaders and members of local peasant, fisherfolk, workers and urban poor organizations in Southern Tagalog were also implicated in the torching of a Globe cellsite in Lemery, Batangas last August 2.

The accused activists collectively known as the ‘Globe 27’ were charged with arson, inciting to commit rebellion and destruction of property by Globe Telecoms and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“The charges against the ‘Globe 27’ are weak and baseless so the PNP and AFP concocted other cases to pin down Saladero. The latest murder charges against Saladero are fabricated. Accusing a fulltime lawyer of bombing a cell site and murder is simply preposterous,” Mariano said.

Mariano said Saladero, who co-founded Anakpawis in 2003, was helping him in studying the proposed House Bill on Labor Code Amendments and other legislative matters.

The 49-year-old lawyer have expressed concern over Saladero’s arrest because he has heart and diabetic conditions.

Despite his health problems, he reportedl handles more than 700 labor cases.

Mariano said the Arroyo government must be stopped from exploiting the courts and the justice system to persecute activists and leaders of progressive people’s organizations.

“Under Arroyo’s rule, blind justice prevails. The Arroyo government has adopted the dirty tactic of filing fictitious charges against progressive individuals who are actively exposing and opposing corruption and anti-people policies. The main targets of political persecution through legal offensives are progressive labor and peasant leaders,” he said in a press statement.

Mariano also demanded the “surfacing” of Anakpawis provincial coordinator for Rizal, Nestor San Jose, who was abducted by still unidentified armed men at the public market in Teresa, Rizal at around 9 a.m. Friday. He is one of the accused in the Globe 27 case. He remains missing and his whereabouts is still unknown as of this time. – GMANews.TV


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