Rights group wants UN intervention on ‘illegal’ arrest of militant lawyer

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10/28/2008 | 12:11 PM

MANILA, Philippines – A Hong Kong-based human rights group sought United Nations intervention Tuesday for a militant lawyer who police “arrested” in his house in Antipolo City last week.

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) questioned the “trumped” charges against Remegio Saladero Jr, along with his continued detention a week after his arrest. Saladero is the chief legal counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).

“Please also be informed that the AHRC is writing letters to the (United Nations) Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and Working Group on arbitrary detention calling for intervention in this case,” AHRC said in a statement on its website.

On Thursday last week, plainclothes police arrested Saladero while he was working in his house in Antipolo City.

The police showed him a warrant of arrest dated Oct. 6 2008 issued by Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 40 in Calapan City in Mindoro Oriental.

In its statement, the AHRC cited discrepancies in the arrest warrant issued against Saladero.

“However, the name and address of the person mentioned in the arrest warrant were different from his. The warrant was for charges of multiple murders and multiple frustrated murders that took place in Mindoro,” AHRC said.

Still, Saladero was handcuffed and forcibly taken into custody. The police also took his mobile phone, computer CPU (central processing unit) and a laptop, the group noted.

Saladero was first taken to the Rizal Provincial Police Headquarters in Antipolo City where the arresting officers photographed him.

While in police custody, the police refused Saladero’s assertion that he should be allowed to contact his family and inform them of his whereabouts.

Later, he was transferred to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna. It was only after 8 p.m. that he was able to contact his wife, Maricel.

“At first, the police refused to allow Maricel and Neri to speak to the victim. It was only after they had a heated argument that the police allowed Maricel and Neri to do so for a short time,” AHRC said.

The team stayed in the area until October 24 to ensure that Saladero would be treated accordingly while in police custody.

At around 6:30 a.m. on October 24, Saladero was made to board a red Toyota Corrolla with no license plates. He was then transported to a pier in Batangas where he was taken on a ferry to Calapan City.

By 10 a.m., another team was also waiting for Saladero at the court where he would be taken in Calapan City. However, it took the team five hours to arrive and to present Saladero in court.

Apart from the murder charges, AHRC said, Saladero was also “falsely” charged with arson and conspiracy to commit rebellion together with 18 other activists for allegedly having been involved in burning a cell site of a telecommunication company in Lemery, Batangas last August 2.

The New People’s Army claimed responsibility for the attack.

AHRC said those falsely charged together with Saladero were Nestor Samarita, Noriel Ricafort, Agaton Bautista, Amelito Sto. Tomas, Bayani Cambronero, Antonio Cule, Reynaldo Malaborbor, Alex Arias, Rolando Mingo, Nestor San Jose, Mario Caraig, Yolanda Yaun, Jacquilin
Entienza, Romeo Lorca Aguilar, Dina Capetillo, Edmar Fernandez, Isabelo Alicaya, and Rafael Magadia.

A certain Arvin Martinez Leviste, a self-proclaimed deep penetrating agent (DPA) of the Philippine Air Force, stood as witness of the case.

Leviste claimed that he has been involved with Saladero in NPA activities for a year now.

“It was only early this month when Saladero found out that his name and photo was among the list in a memorandum order subject to preliminary investigation by the prosecutor’s office in Batangas City although the order was dated August 12,” AHRC said.

AHRC said that before the police took custody of Saladero, there have been incidents of overt surveillance conducted at the office of their labor center.

In October 2007, a soldier was arrested for spying on the labor center in Quezon City. When taken to the police station, the soldier admitted that he and another companion who had escaped from arrest was carrying out surveillance and that they were on official duty.

“The charges for arson and conspiracy to commit rebellion against him and 18 other activists must also be thoroughly reviewed. They must also be dropped if found that no substantial evidence to hold them for trial,” AHRC said. – GMANews.TV


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