by Task Force FrEEDOM
On June 3,2010, a raid was reportedly conducted in Taysan, Batangas at 4am in the morning by the 743rd Combat Squadron of the Philippine Air Force based in the area. Maricon C. Montajes, female, 21 years old student of the University of the Philippines (UP) taking up Mass Communication major in Film, was wounded in the forehead and was brought to the PAF Hospital. There were two other youth who were allegedly companions of Maricon namely Ronilo Baes, 19 year old, from Batangas and Romiel Cañete, 22 years old, from Diliman Quezon City.
Following the raid was the filing of charges against the three youth with frustrated murder and homicide, illegal possession of firearms and violation of gun ban. Since then, they have been detained at Batangas Provincial Jail.
As a student of Mass Communication, Maricon has all the potentials to be an active participant in social change and genuine development in the country. Part of being a student in her chosen course, it was but natural for her to explore the countryside and seek to learn about the situation of communities. It is therefore unfortunate that she was implicated in this raid incident when she was only exercising her democratic right as community outreach worker in the rural areas of Southern Tagalog. Her choice of work only demonstrated her concern for community development where she would have wanted to introduce creative communication strategies in rural development work being a film making student.
Academic freedom is an essential part of the learning process of UP students, and denying Maricon the chance to freely explore her abilities is tantamount to putting a barrier in the development of her mental capacities and giving her a chance to learn from outside the confines of her school into the real-life situations in the community.
Moreover, the continued detention of Maricon, Ronilo and Romiel violates their Human Rights and Civil Liberties. As inscribed in the Philippine Constitution, a person is presumed innocent unless proven guilty and therefore must not be held against her/his will, thus, we admonish the Philippine government and its armed might to respect its citizen’s human rights and free Maricon and all the other 344 political prisoners all over the country held captive without fair trial.
Furthermore, as provided for in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian law (CARHRIHL), an important document that resulted out from the peace negotiations between the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the Government of the Philippines, respect for human rights must be observed strictly by government forces especially those conducting operations on the ground.
Among the basic rights violated in the illegal arrest and detention of Maricon and her companions are as follows:
- The right to self-determination of the Filipino nation by virtue of which the people should fully and freely determine their political status, pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and dispose of their natural wealth and resources for their own welfare and benefit towards genuine national independence, democracy, social justice and development.
- The inherent and inalienable right of the people to establish a just, democratic and peaceful society, to adopt effective safeguards against, and to oppose oppression and tyranny similar to that of the past dictatorial regime.
- The right of the victims and their families to seek justice for violations of human rights, including adequate compensation or indemnification, restitution and rehabilitation, and effective sanctions and guarantees against repetition and impunity.
- The right to life, especially against summary executions (salvagings), involuntary disappearances, massacres and indiscriminate bombardments of communities, and the right not to be subjected to campaigns of incitement to violence against one’s person.
- The right to liberty, particularly against unwarranted and unjustified arrest and detention and to effectively avail of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
- The individual and collective right of the people and of communities to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and to effective safeguards of these rights against any illegal operations by GRP agencies.
- The right not to be subjected to physical or mental torture, solitary confinement, rape and sexual abuse, and other inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment, detention and punishment.
- The right to substantive and procedural due process, to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and against self-incrimination.
- The right to equal protection of the law and against any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, belief, age, physical condition or civil status and against any incitement to such discrimination.
- The right to freedom of thought and expression, freedom of conscience, political and religious beliefs and practices and the right not to be punished or held accountable in the exercise of these rights.
- The right to free speech, press, association and assembly, and to seek redress of grievances.
It is important that we understand that as citizens of this free and democratic country, we are protected from the excesses of law-enforcers who execute their duties without regard for the citizen’s welfare.
We may also need to be guided about the legal terms that we may encounter in our effort to free Maricon and the rest of the Political Prisoners. The following are the definition of terms that will likely apply to our call against human rights violations committed against political prisoners:
Violation of other civil and political rights
The act by persons in authority or their agents; regular state security forces (military and police), paramilitary forces (CAFGU and CVO) and their agents (vigilantes, hired goons and killers, etc.) of either unlawfully or arbitrarily or unjustifiably arresting or taking or ‘inviting’ into custody or restraining the liberty of an individual, whether actually to answer for a crime or not.
The purported arrest but without legal basis or ground and without legal authority on the part of the perpetrator to effect an arrest. The arrest is without legal basis or ground if any of the following occurs:
There is a warrant of arrest but there is a fatal defect in the warrant (e.g., the name of the person to be arrested, the crime charged, the court or judge issuing the warrant etc.); there is no warrant of arrest and the arrest is not one of those valid instances allowed by law to effect a warrantless arrest (e.g., the person to be arrested is caught in the act of committing, is about to commit, or has just committed a crime).
The purported arrest but without legal basis or ground although the perpetrator has legal authority to effect an arrest.
The purported arrest was a result of or in consonance with the policy and/or practice of criminalization of political beliefs or acts and/or agrarian/labor cases; or the arrest was made illegally at first but was cured or validated by the subsequent issuance of a warrant of arrest.
Includes the improper substitution of fictitious and generic “John Does” to justify or legalize an otherwise questionable arrest.
The act of depriving an individual of his liberty by public officers, persons in authority or their agents (warden, sheriff); regular state security forces (military and police), paramilitary forces (CAFGU and CVO) and their agents (vigilantes, hired goons, etc.) whether or not the deprivation is by means of detention cells or otherwise. These may take the following forms:
The deprivation of liberty committed without legal grounds. If for instance there is a writ of habeas corpus ordering the production and/or release of a person deprived of liberty but it is not followed or implemented by any agent of the state, then it also qualifies as arbitrary detention.
The delay in the delivery of an arrested individual to the proper judicial authorities beyond the periods allowed by law in cases of valid warrantless arrests and said individual continues to be detained. Under Article 125 of the Revised Penal Code, an individual who is validly arrested without a warrant of arrest must be delivered or presented to an inquest fiscal /prosecutor within 12, 18, 36 hours (as the case maybe, depends on the gravity of the imposable penalty for the crime to be charged), to determine the legality of his arrest and/or detention, otherwise the continued detention beyond these periods becomes “unlawful” though the proper crime is legally called “delay in delivery of detained persons.”
THUS, TO FREE MARICON TOGETHER WITH RONILO AND ROMIEL IS URGENT!
LET US ALL CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF MARICON AND ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!