V I C T I M
REMIGIO SALADERO JR. Male, married, 49 yrs old
Organizations: Integrated Bar of the Philippines, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center, Bayan Muna – Rizal, Kilusang Mayo Uno
Atty. Remigio D. Saladero, Jr. took his Bachelor of Arts-Major in Political Science at the Mindanao State University (MSU), Marawi City and graduated cum laude on April 7, 1979. He obtained his Bachelor of Laws in San Beda College on April 16, 1983. He has a Diploma in Industrial Relations (April 1987), Master in Industrial Relations (October 1989), and Master of Public Administration (April 1995) from the University of the Philippines (Diliman).
Criminal Case No. CR-06-8525 for Multiple Murder & Multiple Frustrated Murder
“People of the Philippines (plaintiff) versus Rustom Simbulan, et al. (accused)”
TYPE OF VIOLATION
Illegal arrest, Arbitrary detention
PLACE OF INCIDENT
At the residence of Atty. Saladero where he has his own law office at 119 Circumferential Road, San Isidro, Antipolo City, Rizal.
DATE OF INCIDENT
At around 2:30 P.M. on October 23, 2008.
Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. was arrested by elements of Philippine National Police of Rizal province mobile group and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) in his residence at Antipolo City . It was only later that Atty. Saladero learned he was arrested by the combined forces of the RIID 4A, PIB, Rizal PPO 418th PPMG.
The motive behind the arrest and detention of Atty. Remigio Saladero, Chief Legal Counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno, and organizers like Arnaldo Seminiano, a labor union organizer in Laguna and member of Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa-Kilusang Mayo Uno (IBM-KMU), is to decimate the struggle for labor rights and demolish the militant labor movement.
The cases against the Southern Tagalog activists are particularly alarming because of their wholesale and sweeping nature: Almost all high-profile regional and provincial leaders have been charged. Even more disturbing are the legal shortcuts that were resorted to by the prosecutor in implicating 72 respondents without the benefit of any preliminary investigation and the hasty issuance of arrest warrants by the Calapan RTC.
It appears that the principal impetus for the filing of these new cases against the 72 is consistent with the communist-labeling/demonizing being resorted to by the Arroyo regime and the state security forces. The cases portray and subsequently accuse legal activists to be members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. But instead of simply filing rebellion cases against them, they are instead charged with common crimes such as murder and arson.
Like in the previous rebellion cases against partylist lawmakers and activists, the current multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder charges were filed through highly irregular procedures denying the accused their right to due process.
These trumped-up charges have all the imprints of the Department of Justice, the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG), the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.
It is logical to assume that the over-all motive for the arrest and detention is part of the counter-insurgency program of the government as spelled-out in its Oplan Bantay Laya I & II.
SUMMARY OF EVENTS / CIRCUMSTANCES OF ATTY. SALADERO’S ARREST
- At around 2:30 P.M. on October 23, 2008, while Atty. Remigio D. Saldero, Jr. was alone and drafting some pleadings at his office/residence at 119 Circumferential Road, San Isidro, Antipolo City, Rizal, he heard somebody knocking at the gate.
- He initially ignored the knockings as he was not expecting any appointment for that afternoon, but when the knockings persisted, he decided to check who it was.
- At the gate, Atty. Remigio D. Saladero, Jr. noticed a frail-looking man in civilian clothes, about 20 to 30 years old. When the man told him he was looking for “Atty. Saladero”, he let the man in.
- Once inside, the man told Atty. Saladero about his alleged brother who is purportedly charged with a drug-related offense. Atty. Saladero advised him that if the offense is bailable, his brother may post bail; otherwise, he could file a petition for bail. All the while, Atty. Saladero had noticed that the man kept on glancing around, as if checking if he had companions.
- Then the man told Atty. Saladero that the documents on the case was in his motor bike which was allegedly parked outside, and asked permission to get them.
- Minutes later, the man came back with two other men in civilian clothes. One of them suddenly approached Atty. Saladero and asked him “Kayo si Atty. Saladero?” Then he showed me a document while saying “mga pulis kami, may warrant kayo, multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder sa RTC Calapan.”
- Atty. Saladero tried to read the document but the man immediately withdrew it. At a glance, however, Atty. Saladero could read that it was a warrant for the arrest of one “REMEGIO SALADERO @ KA PATRICK,” issued on October 6, 2008 by Judge Tomas Leynes.
- When Atty. Saladero insisted that the arresting officers made a mistake in arresting him, the man barked at him, “Sumama kayo nang maayos para walang mangyaring masama.”
- Thereupon, Atty. Saladero took out his cellular phone to call his wife but the man confiscated it. Another drew his gun and told him to keep quiet. And the other, who pretended to have a brother charged with a drug-related offense, handcuffed Atty. Saladero.
- Despite Atty. Saladero’s pleas to allow him to call his wife, the men refused, pulled him out of his house and forced him into a tinted van.
- Two other men in civilian clothes, who had been positioned at the gate of the compound, also went inside his house and took with them Atty. Saladero’s laptop.
- It was only later that Atty. Saladero learned he was arrested by the combined forces of the RIID 4A, PIB, Rizal PPO 418th PPMG, and that the central processing unit (CPU) of his computer, pleadings, Daily Calendar of Activities for the year 2008 containing his scheduled hearings and other professional commitments were also seized by the arresting team.
- Inside the van, Atty. Remigio D. Saladero, Jr. was made to sit on the backseat sandwiched between two of his captors who were armed with long firearms. The man seated beside the driver was also armed.
- When the van passed by the Antipolo Police Station, Atty. Saladero requested that they drop by, hoping that some policemen in the station would recognize him. But his captors ignored his request.
- Atty. Saladero’s captors began interrogating him inside the van, asking him several outlandish questions such as how many times he had gone up the mountains and his code name. He explained to them that they probably got the wrong man. He also asked them if he could call his lawyers and if he could get back his cellular phone. But his captors told him that he would be allowed to make his calls later. The men then started to take his picture, using their own cellular phones.
- The van then stopped at the Rizal Police Provincial Office in Hilltop, Taytay, Rizal. The armed men disembarked for a while and took pictures of Atty. Saladero.
- When the armed men got back inside the van, they told Atty. Saladero that they are going to the PNP Regional Office at Canlubang. He remained in handcuffs throughout the trip.
- At around 5:00 P.M., Atty. Saladero was brought to Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna where he was again photographed and his fingerprints were taken. Thereafter, he was subjected to a detailed interrogation. His answers were all taken down by the interrogator. At this point, Atty. Saladero again requested that he be allowed to call his wife or his lawyers, but the interrogator ignored his request.
- Atty. Saladero was made to answer prying questions ranging from the names of his parents, his wife’s and those of his relatives. He was even asked about his membership in organizations, his positions therein and his tasks. He told his interrogator that his tasks did not include leading or joining the armed struggle against the government, and that all his actions were all legal and in accordance with law.
- When asked about his involvement with KMU, Atty. Saladero told his interrogator that as its chief legal counsel, he renders legal assistance to workers and unions affiliated with the said labor center.
- Atty. Saladero was likewise asked about his companions in his office, and whether he has joined rallies. Atty. Saladero explained that he would participate in rallies as an exercise of his freedom of expression.
- He was also asked about the seminars he has participated in, including its venues, the topics and the participants. He was also asked about the BKP or the IKP, to which he answered that he had never participated in such types of seminars. During the entire interrogation, Atty. Saladero was still handcuffed.
- The interrogation was cut short only by an order sending Atty. Saladero to the police clinic for examination after which the interrogation resumed. He remained in handcuffs all throughout these entire process.
- Atty. Saladero was allowed to make a call only at 9:00 P.M. after several hours of interrogation, and after almost eight (8) hours since he was held incommunicado. Then he was transferred to the detention center where he spent the night alone.
- Upon learning where Atty. Saladero was taken to, his wife and his colleague in his Quezon City office, Atty. Noel Neri, rushed to Camp Vicente Lim. They were allowed to see and talk only briefly with Atty. Saladero who was again left in solitary confinement after the visit.
- At 6:30 in the morning of the following day, October 24, 2008, Atty. Remigio D. Saladero Jr. was loaded by his police escorts in an unmarked vehicle bearing no license plate, over and above his wife’s insistence and plea that she be allowed to accompany him during the travel.
- Atty. Saladero was brought to Camp Naramo, Calapan City where he was again photographed and fingerprinted. It was only at 3:00 P.M. that he was presented to the Regional Trial Court of Calapan City, Branch 40 before Judge Tomas Leynes. It was only during that time that he was able to read the information and saw that the accused was one “REMEGIO SALADERO alias Ka Patrick of Los Banos, Laguna.”
The Southern Tagalog 27
On September 30, 2008, volunteers of the human rights group Karapatan in Batangas stumbled upon a complaint filed against 27 persons who included activist leaders and members of progressive people’s organizations in the Southern Tagalog region. The original complaint was filed on August 12, 2008 at the office of the Batangas Provincial Prosecutor’s Office by a certain Marlo Timbreza on behalf of Globe Telecom Inc., regarding the bombing and burning of a Globe cell site in Lemery, Batangas last August 2. Timbreza alleged that the respondents committed arson, the destruction of private property other than arson and conspiracy to commit rebellion.
The August 12 complaint named 19 respondents which included prominent activist-leaders Bayani Cambronero, 8th party list nominee and Southern Tagalog regional coordinator of Bayan Muna; Rolando Mingo, Vice President of the nationwide transport group PISTON, and president of the Southern Tagalog Region Transport Sector Organization; Atty. REMIGIO SALADERO JR, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) Legal Counsel, member of Pro Labor Assistance Center (PLACE), Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL); Agaton Bautista, Anakpawis, Batangas provincial coordinator; Noriel Rocafort, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Batangas secretary general; Isabelo Alicaya, Chairperson of the Fisherfolk group PAMALAKAYA-Southern Tagalog and the Haligi ng mga Batangueñong Anak Dagat (Habagat).
Also included in the original complaint is Romy Aguilar of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) in Rizal who is now in a wheelchair due to diabetes.
The complaint would later be amended in September 5, 2008 to include 8 of the 9 grassroots activists who were abducted and tortured by elements of the Calabarzon PNP’s Regional Special Operations Group last August 31, 2008 in Tartaria, Cavite.
The supposed witness to the crime of arson is a certain Arvin Leviste who claims to be a Deep Penetration Agent of the military who infiltrated the organization and planned and worked with the respondents in the burning of the cell site.
The Mindoro 72 Case
On October 23, 2008, Atty. Remigio Saladero was reported missing. Later, his colleagues would learn that he was being detained in Camp Vicente Lim in Calamba City by virtue of a warrant of arrest.
The next day, Nestor San Jose, another ST 27 respondent would also be nabbed in Teresa town in Rizal.
The warrants of arrest were issued by Judge Tomas Leynes of the Calapan City Regional Trial Court in accordance with a criminal case filed against Atty. Saladero, San Jose and 70 others.
It was only then that lawyers discovered this separate case of multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder filed against 72 persons, including most of the Southern Tagalog 27. The information cited an NPA ambush in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental in March 3, 2006.
The charge was originally filed against a certain Rustum Simbulan, and was later amended to add 71 others. More than 30 of the 71 additional names are active leaders, and members of progressive people’s organizations in Southern Tagalog.
On October 27, 2008, in a court proceeding regarding Atty. Saladero’s case, provincial prosecutor Josephine Caranzo-Olivar admitted that no preliminary investigation was conducted when the names of the 71 were added to the amended information. This means that no inquiry was held to determine if there was probable cause against the additional 71 individuals.
The same day, Crispin Zapanta also among the 72 accused, was arrested in Antipolo City.
Saladero, San Jose and Zapanta are now detained at the Calapan City Provincial Jail.
On November 4, Anakpawis Provincial Coordinator and spokesman of the Katipunan ng Magbubukid sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka) Rogelio Galit was arrested by the PNP in his house in Kaong, Silang, Cavite. Galit is bedridden and is suffering from diabetes.
On November 6, 2008, Arnaldo Seminiano, a labor union organizer in Laguna and member of Ilaw at Buklod ng Manggagawa-Kilusang Mayo Uno (IBM-KMU) was also arrested, along with Sonny Gum-O. The latter was released eventually since his name is not included in the amended information.
Also included in the complaint are victims of human rights violations themselves. They include Arman Albarillo, who lost both his parents after they were murdered by military forces, and Orly Marcellana, whose wife Eden Marcellana (Karapatan ST Secretary General) was killed in Mindoro by soldiers under Gen. Jovito Palparan. Albarillo has been a consistent complainant in the impeachment cases filed against Mrs. Gloria Arroyo.