ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
Urgent Appeal Update: AHRC-UAU-010-2013
3 April 2013
[RE: AHRC-UAU-036-2012: PHILIPPINES: Two urban poor leaders and 30 others falsely charged with murder]
PHILIPPINES: Court records, military asset and military documents were used as evidence to affirm fabrication of charges on activists
ISSUES: Human rights defenders; administration of justice; fabrication of charges
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing with deep concern that the investigation conducted by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) after our appeals concerning the fabrication of charges on two urban poor leaders was ineffective. It appears that CHR investigators did not investigate adequately and thoroughly. Rather than conducting a serious investigation they collected documents from the court, cited confessional evidence of a military asset and documents from the military to conclude their report.
In December 19, 2012, we issued an appeal concerning the fabrication of charges on Roy Velez, regional chairperson of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Amelita Gamara, of Defend Job Philippines, and 30 others. For details please see: AHRC-UAU-036-2012.
In response to our appeal, on January 21, 2013 the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Regional Office in Naga City conducted their investigation. In their investigation, however, the CHR reaffirmed the filing of charges on them and concluded that:
“……..It appears on the evidences presented by the side of the complainant that the witnesses were former members of the NPA who positively identified the list of accused in this case. The witnesses were able to recount the incident of the attack as it happened……..
The right to due process includes the right to meet your accusers and their witnesses face to face. The witnesses in this case were willing to testify for and in behalf of the victims. They stand by their testimony that they have witnessed the commission of the crime and that they were able to identify the names of the accused for they were once of the NPA but are now rebel returnees.
The accused should face the accusations against them in order for them to be able to give their side of the case and to prove their innocence in the crime they are accused of. (Attys. Arlene Alangco & Donnah Federico-Madrona, CHR Region V sub-office Investigation Report, January 21, 2013, pp. 4-5)”
Upon receipt of the CHR’s report, the AHRC forwarded the copy to Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara who are presently forced to go into hiding.
In her reply, Gamara pointed out:
“……The contents of the report was a disappointment to me. It was a rephrased copy of the Information and Resolution from the prosecutor who filed the case before the Branch 64 Labo Regional Trial Court
…..we were denied of this right because not a single piece of this information came to our knowledge until two persons were arrested (Raul Camposano and Randy Vegas of COURAGE) under the same warrant of arrest. The CHR one sidedly relied on the complainants’ and witnesses’ statements that we live in some general location address, and conveniently stated in the resolution that no response came from the address to where they sent the notices.”
In his reply, Velez pointed out:
“In the declaration of their definition of “truth”, is it as if the CHR merely use the statements of facts information which came from only one side? If the military is the one accusing a certain person, and you are not biased, you will not use/issue a statement of fact that is purely one-sided.
Did the confirm that me and Amelita Bravante were really there? It is VERY CLEAR that they DID NOT. They did not even attempted to go to the KMU National’s office which is just a 30-minute ride from their office in UP. They did not even ask for our opinion or our side of the story and they just used the information in the court that came only from the military.
COMMENTS AND OBSERVATIONS OF THE AHRC:
In concluding their report, the CHR relied heavily on the court documents they obtained from a Court Interpreter at the Regional Trial Court Branch (RTC), Branch 64, in Labo, Camarines Norte on January 15, 2013. The CHR ignored the victims’ alibi that they could not have been physically present in Barangay Maot, Labo, Camarines Norte on April 29, 2012, where the attack that killed four soldiers took place.
In the unofficial translation of their sworn statements originally written in Filipino, in Gamara’s statement & Velez’ statement it was clear that they were both in Metro Manila, and could not have been physically present at the location where the crime happened. However, there is nothing in the CHR’s investigation report that includes their testimonies.
The testimonies of the witnesses, where the CHR pointed as evidence of the “positive identification of the accused,” were witnesses: Gil Oresaca, an intelligence person working for the military and SP02 Reynate Nacario, who neither knew the perpetrators of the attack in person or by their names. Also, the documents of the investigation the CHR has quoted is information provided by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), not the police, because the CHR did not even get the forensic investigation report despite repeated requests.
Also, it is unthinkable for Oresca to identify with accuracy the names, aliases and exact home address of the 23 rebels, two of whom are the accused Velez and Gamara, at once in a very chaotic situation of attack. Also SP02 Nacario’s ‘positive identification’ of the accused was not his identification, but from the military men who had debriefed him and given him the names of the supposed identities of the perpetrators.
Gamara and Velez were both in Metro Manila on the same day the killing happened. In fact, Gamara could not walk properly due to her illness and medical condition. Also, there were witnesses who could testify that Velez was physically present in the Silverio compound, Paranaque City, to assist the burial of a villager who was killed in a demolition.
Moreover, when the CHR conducted its investigation neither Velez nor Gamara was given the opportunity to respond to the allegations. The AHRC is deeply concerned by the manner in which the CHR is conducting its investigation in this case.
Therefore, we urged the CHR to review their investigation. The victims, who are also the accused in the fabricated criminal charges should be given an opportunity to respond substantively to the allegations against them.
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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