The Regional Trial Court recently cleared seven activists from charges of rebellion after finding insufficient grounds to include them in the case filed by state prosecutors last year.
In a May 11 order, Branch 2 Judge Corpus Alzate granted the Motion to Quash filed by the activists Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Jennifer Awingan, Windel Bolinget, Florence Kang, Lourdes Jimenez, Nino Oconer, and Stephen Tauli, questioning the validity of the information on the complaint.
The charges stemmed from an ambush in Malibcong, Abra on October 2022 where two Army soldiers were killed by alleged members of the communist rebel New People Army (NPA).
State prosecutors claimed that two survivors recognized in a “Rogue Gallery” persons identified as Jovencio Tangbawan and Salcedo Dumayom Dappay as among the suspects. The rebellion charge included the seven for being alleged officers of the rebel unit where the two belong.
However, the state prosecution failed to rebut the Motion to Quash jointly filed by Rene Cortes Law and Jose Molintas Law, who stood as counsels for the seven.
In deciding, the court stated that the seven were never identified by the survivors. It also ordered the seven to be excluded from the information filed and ordered all warrants of arrest issued against them in connection to the case be canceled.
“The decision of the trial court is but another knot in the long line of similar fabricated cases filed against activists and eventually dismissed because they are that – fabrications,” said Baguio lawyer Rene Cortes, counsel for the seven.
Instead of “wasting resources” on forging bogus cases, the government should focus its efforts on curbing the rampant corruption and abuses perpetrated by government officials, said Cortes.
While the state prosecutors have the option to appeal the decision, Cortes is confident that the same will be denied since “there is not even a strand of evidence to link” the activists to the armed encounter. – Karlston Lapniten