[Appeal] Sign on statement Appeal for Solidarity for the release of two (2) Agta women Marites Marquez and Rosario Loreto and against all illegal arrests and detention

Dear All

Pagbati sa araw ng kababaihan!

We, the undersigned seek for your solidarity for the release of two (2) Agta women Marites Marquez and Rosario Loreto and against all illegal arrests and detention. Join us, register your support by signing this statement by replying to this email, as we renew a more aggressive campaign against illegal arrests and detentions.

Free Lotero and Marquez copyJoin us as we call for the immediate release of Marquez and Loreto and demand that the practice of illegal arrests and detention be stopped. Perpetrators must be held accountable so that similar cases will not happen again to anyone.

Let Marquez and Loreto be the last victims of this habitual and irresponsible handling of authorities, especially the security sectors, of cases involving suspected insurgents. Release Marquez and Loreto and hold all those involved accountable.

You may also register your support through the following contact addresses:
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) tfdp.1974@gmail.com
Sulong CARHRIHL – seztinth@yahoo.com c/o seth
Medical Action Group (MAG) -eaparducho@gmail.com c/o Pards
Fr. Pete Montallana pinding2003@yahoo.com
https://www.facebook.com/TaskForceDetaineesofthePhilippines

————

Sign on statement
Appeal for Solidarity for the release of two (2) Agta women Marites Marquez and Rosario Loreto and against all illegal arrests and detention

In the morning of September 27, 2014, Marites Marquez, 43 and Rosario Loreto, 37, both Agtas, were illegally arrested by a group of military personnel and police who were all armed and wearing civilian clothes in Barangay Sta. Ines in Tanay, Rizal.

Marquez and Loreto were accused of kidnapping, robbery, and murder. Because of the black cloth tied around their necks, a traditional Agta sign of mourning for a dead relative, both were linked to the abduction of a retired military officer named Master Sergeant Lino Hernandez, allegedly by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Barangay Tinucan, Tanay, on September 26, 2014. According to witnesses, some NPA rebels also wear a black cloth around their necks, too.

Marquez and Loreto were interrogated for two days by the soldiers and the police, asked the same set of questions to make them admit their participation in the kidnapping of Master Sgt. Hernandez and to being NPA members.

Marquez and Loreto denied all allegations against them. Before they were arrested, both sold vegetables, did traditional gold panning, and did household chores for a living.

Marquez and Loreto are temporarily detained at the Rizal Police Provincial Office (RPO) lock-up cell at the Taytay Police Station. The charges with criminal case number 14-12346-M against Marquez and Loreto are filed at Morong Regional Trial Court Branch 80.

Acting on its power to review the decision of the prosecutors, the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) found procedural flaw in the filing of the case against Marquez and Loreto that violated their right to be secured in their person. The records showed that the arresting officers had no personal knowledge that the respondents committed the kidnapping and robbery which will justify the warrantless arrest.

Citing the Supreme Court ruling, the DOJ stated that, “if there is no showing that the person who effected the warrantless arrest had, in his own right knowledge of facts implicating the person arrested to the perpetration of a criminal offense, the arrest is legally objectionable.” The prosecutor failed to comply with its duty during inquest proceedings to first and foremost determine the legality of the arrest.

Accordingly, it was ordered that the case be returned to the office of origin for the conduct of reinvestigation and the prosecutor was directed to withdraw the information of kidnapping and serious illegal detention against the two Agta women.

Marquez and Loreto have been languishing in jail for five months now. The hearing for the motion to withdraw information and order the release of the respondents last February 10, 2015 was reset because the presiding Judge was absent due to some personal reason. It was reset to March 9, 2015.

Despite the favorable decision from the Secretary of Justice, there is still no guarantee that the two Agta women will be released any time soon. Let the legal matter takes its course, but let us demand that they be released immediately, since first and foremost, their arrest was illegal. Let our loud voices be heard in pressuring concerned government agencies for the immediate release of Marquez and Loreto.

It is true that everything will depend on the discretion of the judge, whether to immediately issue a resolution granting the motion to withdraw information and order release of the detainees, or not act on the DOJ’s order. The latter may be justified by saying that the court is not bound by the findings of the Secretary of Justice. But, as long as Marquez and Loreto are detained, they are at risk of suffering the same fate as the others who have been alleged and accused to be members of rebel groups. There have been cases of torture and violation of the right to due process and equal protection under the law, which have victimized innocent civilians belonging to the marginalized sectors. There were documented cases of mistaken identities and human rights violations against them. Worse, no perpetrators have been brought to justice.

The case of Marquez and Loreto brings back to mind what happened to the Morong 43, where it took several months before the court issued an order of release despite the resolution of the Secretary of Justice to withdraw the information.

We appeal for solidarity. Join us as we renew a more aggressive campaign against illegal arrests and detentions. Call for the immediate release of Marquez and Loreto and demand that the practice of illegal arrests and detention be stopped. Perpetrators must be held accountable so that similar cases will not happen again to anyone.

Let Marquez and Loreto be the last victims of this habitual and irresponsible handling of authorities, especially the security sectors, of cases involving suspected insurgents. Release Marquez and Loreto and hold all those involved accountable.

FREE MARITES MARQUEZ AND ROSARIO LORETO! FREE ALL POLITICAL DETAINEES AND PRISONERS! STOP ILLEGAL ARRESTS AND DETENTION!

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Sulong CARHRIHL
Medical Action Group (MAG)
Fr. Pete Montallana
SAGIBIN
LILAK Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights
XD Initiatives
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Your signature here (or name of organization)

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