Drop the charges

Groups pressure court into recalling arrest warrant vs leaders
AROUND 500 weary and parched Lumads marched towards the Hall of Justice in Ecoland to demand that the criminal cases filed against their leaders be dropped.

The court has already issued an arrest warrant to bring the 14 activists to trial in connection to the violent encounter at UCCP Haran compound on July 23 last year. They are facing charges in kidnapping and serious illegal detention.

The TIMES tried to interview the protesters from Sarangani and North Cotabato but they declined to speak. When asked why they are joining the rally, they would only shrug their shoulders and turn away.

But somebody who introduced himself as Andrew from Sarangani confessed that he doesn’t know why he’s there. However, his companions quickly pulled him away along with the harsh reminder not to speak with reporters.

Pastor Sadrach Sabella, secretary general of Karapatan-Socsksargen, tried to explain away the confusion by saying, “You know the atttitude of the Lumads, even if they are already informed they oftentimes forget.”

“Besides, this is an impromptu event, which is also a factor why they forgot,” the organizer added.

Ordered to be arrested for kidnapping and serious illegal detention are Rev. Jaime of the UCCP-Haran; Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) spokesperson Sheena Duazo; Karapatan-SMR secretary general Hanimay Suazo; Ryan Laniba; Tony Salubre; Jimboy Marciano; Mary Ann Sapar of Gabriela; Jaja Encosio; Pedro Arnado of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas; Kerlan Fanagel; Stella Matutina; Restita Miles; Isidro Andao; Kharlo Manalo; Rius Valle of Save Our Schools-Misfi.

The arrest warrant was issued by Regional Trial Court-Branch 10 Judge Retrina Fuentes.

Meanwhile, Sabella admitted that the respondents are in their safekeeping. He added that they are not in Davao City.

“Now that there’s an arrest warrant, they are now in our custody because they might be apprehended anytime,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Karapatan is conferring with its legal counsel on the next steps “in order to recall the warrant of arrest.”

Moreover, Bai Ali Indayla of Gabriela Mindanao slammed the arrest warrant.

“Instead of our leaders, the soldiers who harrassed the Lumads and (President) Pnoy who ordered these soldiers should be the ones to be thrown in jail,” she said.

Supt. Antonio Rivera, deputy city director for administration, said that Karapatan can’t be held for obstruction of justice even with the confession.

However, if the police will arrest the activists and Karapatan leaders will fight back, that’s the time when they can be sued for obstruction. With report from Rhoda Grace Saron