Top Labor Lawyer, Southern Tagalog activists freed from prison after 3 months

‘Tuloy ang laban!’

After about 3 months of detention, KMU’s chief legal counsel and 5 activist-leaders from Southern Tagalog, were released from prison yesterday, Feb 5.

The six were maliciously charged with multiple murder and multiple frustrated for allegedly participating in an NPA ambush in Mindoro last 2006.

First to be arrested was KMU chief counsel Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. last Oct 23 at his residence-cum-office in Antipolo.

Also arrested and imprisoned were Nestor San Jose, PISTON-Rizal coordinator, Oct 24; Crispin Zapanta, Bayan Muna-Southern Tagalog officer, Oct 27; Rogelio Galit, Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka) spokesperson, Nov 4; Arnaldo Seminiano, Ilaw-Buklod ng Manggagawa-KMU (IBM-KMU)organizer, Nov 6; and Emmanuel Dionida, Labor Education Advocacy Development Response Services (LEADER) executive director, Nov. 13.

All were served with defective warrants of arrests containing misspelled names and/or false addresses.

The Mindoro Oriental Regional Trial Court issued their release orders at around noon time of February 5. The court granted the “motion to quash the information” filed by the defendants, and ruled that multiple crimes (multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder) filed under only one case was not permissible.

A press conference and welcome-back gathering was held at the KMU head office this morning.

“Tuloy na tuloy ang laban! Kung noon ngang nakakulong kami’y hindi kami napigilan o ang aming mga kasapi na magpatuloy sa pagsusulong ng karapatan ng maralita, ngayon pa,” masaya at mapanghamong sabi ni Atty. Saladero.

Saladero continued writing for his weekly column in online alternative magazine Pinoy Weekly, and made legal advices to his inmates while in prison.

“Hinding-hindi kami ma-di-discourage sa kanilang ginawang pagkulong at pag-harass sa amin. Marami pa tayong laban na gustong suungin at dapat gawin, lalo na ngayong panahon ng ibayong panggigipit sa mga manggagawa’t maralita sa panahon ng krisis,” dagdag ni Saladero.

For his part, KMU Executive Vice President Joselito Ustarez said, “Sisiguraduhin naming ganap na ngang makakalaya at maibabasura ang gawa-gawang kaso sa ang aming mga kasamahan.”

72 activists from Southern Tagalog face the same charges of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder, and Saladero, etal’s case has not yet been ordered dismissed.

“Sisiguraduhin din naming mananagot ang administrasyong Arroyo at mga responsableng ahente nito sa militar at pulisya sa ginawa nilang pang-ha-harass at pagkakait ng ilang buwang kalayaan sa aming mga kasama,” ani Ustarez.

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