Rep. Zarate on dismissal of kidnap case: “we’re vindicated”

REP. CARLOS Isagani Zarate of partylist Bayan Muna commended the Ombdusman order dismissing the kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges filed by the military against him and seven other progressive leaders over the evacuation of the displaced lumads at UCCP Haran.

“The dismissal of the trumped-up charges against us is a vindication of our support to the legitimacy of the demands raised by the lumad bakwits (native evacuees) now in sanctuary at UCCP Haran,” said Zarate. “It was an indictment of the bankruptcy and evil motives of the military, the alamara paramilitary group and their cohorts who used the already victimized minor and her family in filing the said false charges.”

Zarate added “as we pursue making the people behind these false charges accountable, we will continue our advocacy in defense of the lumad, their ancestral domain and their inherent right to self-determination.”

The Ombudsman, in a resolution recently released, has dismissed the charges against the congressman, former Rep. Joel Virador, also of Bayan Muna, Datu Ginumao Andil, vice chairman of Salupongan Ta ‘tano Igkanugon; Sheena Duazo, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan; Kerlan Fanagel, chairman of Pasaka Confederation of Lumad ORganizations in Southern Mindanao; Antonio Salubre, Haran volunteer; Juno Marteen Vegas, spokesperson of League of Filipino Students; and Malaya Dereka Genotiva, member of Anakbayan Davao City due to insufficient evidence for probable cause.

The case stemmed from the complaint filed by Nora Kulot Tacay on August 28, 2015 who claimed that she was brought to Haran on July 7, 2015 to file a complaint against the military personnel who abused her daughter.

But, Graft Investigation and Prosecution Officer I Vivian Agdeppa-Jumilla said that “the allegation that the complainants escaped from Haran does not hold water.”

The resolution added that the “record shows that the lumads were given the option to leave or stay Haran.”

Ombudsman also stressed that the conspiracy among the respondents was not established.

The participation of Zarate and Virador to the causes involving the IPs “(is) not tantamount to any criminal liability. Neither was it shown that they detained, nor caused, or even ordered the detention of complainants at Haran,” Jumilla said in her 12-page decision dated Dec. 15, 2015 that was recently released.

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