Commission on Human Rights (CHR), through Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales
Department of Justice (DOJ), thru Sec. Leila De Lima
Public Attorney’s Office (PAO), through Chief Public Attorney Persida RuedaAcosta
Senate Committee on Social Justice, through Senator Francisco Pangilinan
Senate Committee on Justice, through Senator Francis Escudero
Philippine National Police-Human Rights Affairs Office, through Director Clarence
KARAPATAN, through Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), through Atty. Edre Olalia
NDF peace consultant detained at the PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame
April 10, 2012
The enclosed set of individual summary documentations of the cases of most political prisoners here at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame is submitted herewith by the undersigned in corroboration with concerned political prisoners presently detained in this custodial center.
We have worked on the study and documentation of these cases and other related cases for practically the whole of the past year, and have conclusively established that the subjects have definitely been and continue to be victims of grossly unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution and detention; of torture and other grave human rights violations; of snail-paced (and even absent, in some cases), manipulated and unfair court processes; and of foreign intrusion - -(including the cases of rendition of foreigners forcibly abducted abroad at the instigation of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), smuggled into the Philippines with the use of fictitious identities imposed on them, detained and charged with trumped-up cases as Filipinos; and the constant interest and repeated interrogation of political prisoners--particularly Moro/Muslim political prisoners--by the FBI and other U.S. intelligence agencies in a secret FBI room right inside the detention area as well as in at least one secret condominium unit in the vicinity that is being used by U.S. intelligence agencies).
As decisive, corrective action and remedy, these political prisoners should all immediately be vindicated and freed. The injustices and violations of rights committed against them should be fully redressed, and the perpetrators of such injustices and violations be dealt with the appropriate measures. Reprisals should also be guarded against and decisively stopped, especially as there have been a number of attempts and applications of these, including efforts to have the undersigned transferred to another detention center where he can hopefully be more effectively gagged and repressed, and also prevented from continuing with the work on these cases.
Further actions and remedies are also recommended to prevent the continuation and repeat of the wrongs pinpointed and highlighted in these studies and documentations, and to root out the system and conditions that have brought about and continue to bring about such wrongs.
About political prisoners
First, whether there really are political prisoners:
In truth, even if the GPH keeps making denials of the glaring and obvious fact, there are political prisoners here and all throughout the country. The reality of the existence of political prisoners is even starker, as they are usually categorized as “Maximum Security Risk” prisoners and treated with more intense restrictions and violations of their political, human, legal and other rights.
Detention custodians tend to be most wary of and exercise maximum political intolerance and restrictions on political prisoners as much as possible, because of the latter’s maintenance, more often than not, of their political stand and capacity to continue and even heighten the fight for their suppressed and trampled-upon political, human, legal and other rights and that of others, even if they are in prison. The rights and work of political prisoners related to the peace process are also gravely violated.
The principal means of trying to hide or suppress the political character of their incarceration has been to file trumped-up criminal charges against them. This is not only in violation of the Hernandez Doctrine, which prohibits charging of criminal cases when such are covered by political cases, such as rebellion. This is also done, and more so, by means of foul machinations that are actually illegal, such as concocting false non-bailable criminal cases just to indefinitely keep them in jail, charging them as different persons, presenting false witnesses, intentionally letting court processes proceed at a snail’s space, maneuvering to change court venues and/or filing new trumped-up cases when political prisoners are still able to get their cases dismissed, or simply ignoring legal processes.
All these and more have been committed against political prisoners here at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.
The serving of warrant of arrest is always required in the arrest of a person, except in the case of one caught in the act of committing a crime. In practically all the cases of political prisoners studied and documented here, no true warrants of arrest were served when they were arrested for some supposed long-standing charges. In most cases, post facto “warrants of arrest” were produced only long after the arrest, and in some cases even long after having been brought to this custodial center.
Worse, many of these post facto “warrants of arrest” were not even for the real persons arrested, but for other persons, and thus the arrested persons were booked, charged and detained in the name of other persons (according to whatever available criminal cases and warrants of arrest in the name of different persons could be expediently borrowed). An “innovation” of this is the conversion of the name of the real person into just an alias of another person who has already been included in a criminal case. Another is the conversion of the name of someone else (who may just be another real person) charged with a criminal case, as a supposed alias of the political prisoner who has no actual criminal case against him.
Similar “innovations” are also often made in the “return of the warrant of arrest.” All these, in order to justify the arrest and continuous detention of the victims of intentional “mistaken identity.”
And then, there have also been cases where warrants of arrest have not been served at all (using instead the usual planted firearms/explosives to justify arrest), and also cases where there have been no return of the warrant of arrest submitted to a presiding court and no commitment order issued by the court at all.
In practically all of the cases studied and documented, clearly they have been victims of illegal arrest, trumped-up charges, malicious and illegally manipulated prosecution, and illegal detention. Majority have been arrested, charged and detained, maliciously under false names or some assigned false aliases, just to include them in standing non-bailable criminal cases, just to keep them in jail indefinitely. Among these are the following:
Ahmad Ibrohim (an Indonesian national, who has been a victim of rendition from Malaysia, forcibly brought to the Philippines with the use of a Filipino identity imposed on him against his will, charged and detained as a certain “Ibrahim Ali” who supposedly was born in Marawi City). His two other companions also suffered the same experience. A fellow Indonesian, Ahmad Faisal, was assigned the name of “Deni Ofrasio,” who supposedly was born in Cotabato City. Another fellow Indonesian, Abdullah Zaini, was assigned the name of “Jessi Panda,” who supposedly was born in S.K. Pendatun, Maguindanao.
Didi Residiana (an Indonesian, arrested, charged and detained as “Ted Yolanda”)
Farhan Sali (arrested , charged and detained as “Guiamaluddin Tutukel Edzrafil”)
Jonathan Romero (arrested, charged and detained as “Julane Luganao Sison” and various other fictitious names; his real name was later made into one of the supposed aliases of the certain “Julane Luganao Sison”)
Kamarudin Awal (arrested, charged and detained as “Kamarudin Ali”)
Salahudin Eson (arrested, charge and detained as “Salahudin Sala”)
Borhan Mundus (was never charged in any criminal case, but just to make his arrest and detention appear “legal,” the name of another person included in a criminal charge – “Amdak Jumah”--was made into just an assigned alias of Borhan Mundus)
Adzhar Barie (was never charged in any criminal case, but just to make his arrest and detention appear “legal,” the name of another person included in a criminal charge-- “Jurim Abdul”--was made into just an assigned alias of another alias--“Hasim Talib”--of Adzhar Barie)
Eduardo Serrano (his real name was made into an alias of another person, “Rogelio Villanueva,” who has been the one charged in five criminal cases, of which one has already been dismissed)
Prospero Agudo (his real name was made into an alias of another person, “Jose Agudo,” who has been the one charged in three criminal cases, of which one was quashed and another was dismissed. He was released on bail in a third case)
Zam Edris (his real name was made into an alias of another real person, “Sauman Usman,” who has been the one charged in a criminal case, and not Zam Edris)
In two of these cases, those charged were even still minors at the time the supposed charges and warrants of arrest were made against them under other names:
Adzhar Barie (was only 17 years old when he was charged with Criminal Case No. 505-4 and supposedly issued a warrant of arrest on Sept. 28, 2000 as “Hasim Talib aka Jurim Abdul”)
Zam Edris (was only 15 years old when he was charged with Criminal Case No. 5512007 and 552-2007 and supposedly issued a warrant of arrest on Dec. 18, 2007 as “Sauman Usman”)
Aside from the fact that the charges files against them have all been trumped-up, court proceedings on the cases of political prisoners here have all been at a snail’s pace, and in many cases have not moved at all, in grave violation of their right to speedy trial:
Matar Saliling (has not gone through any arraignment or any court hearing at all since his arrest and detention more than seven years ago)
Adzhar Barie and Borhan Mundus (have not gone through any arraignment or any court hearings at all since their arrest and detention more than two years ago)
Alan Jazmines (has not gone through any arraignment or any court hearing at all since his arrest and detention a year ago)
Farhan Sali and Maueya Abubakar (were arraigned in April 2009, but since then have not gone through any court hearing on their trumped-up cases for almost three years now)
Badrudin Dalungan (was first charged with a trumped-up case of “illegal possession of firearms” filed after he was arrested on Sept. 22, 2009, but because this case was weak and bailable, his name was included in the non-bailable case filed against “Guimaluddin Edzrafil” and Mueya Abubakar, just so that he can be kept indefinitely in jail; thus even after his “illegal possession of firearms” case was dismissed because the arresting unit failed to produce the “illegal firearms” he was supposedly caught with, he continues to remain detained here; for about 2-1/2 years to date, he has not even been arraigned in court and has not gone through any court proceedings on his second case”)
Didi Resdiana as “Ted Yolanda”, Mohammad Nasir and Ohammad Yussuf Karim Faiz (were arrested on Dec. 12, 2004, upon their arrival in the Philippines from Indonesia and charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives ridiculously supposedly found in their luggage, but actually were just planted there when they were being arrested; it took more than 3-1/2 years before they were brought to court, and since their last court hearing about 3-1/2 years ago, there have been no further court proceedings in their case; they have been gravely denied their right to speedy trial)
Tukan Guindo (has gone through a very slow pace of court proceedings on his trumped-up cases since April 2004)
Gulam Mundus (has gone through a very slow pace of court proceedings on his trumped-up case since June 2009)
Ruben Lavilla Jr. (has not gone through any arraignment or any court hearing at all for about three years now on a “second case” about which he and his counsel were informed in surprise right after his first case was dismissed, the court had already ordered his release, and Lavilla was already stepping out of the gates of the custodial center)
Zam Edris (was illegally detained here at the PNP Custodial Center for about two months, as there did not exist any court order for his confinement to any jail when he was brought here on Dec. 2, 2011; it was only on Jan. 30, 2012 when the arresting unit was able to submit to the court a “return of the warrant of arrest” and obtain a court order for his commitment to the BJMP in Camp Bagong Diwa, thus making it appear this time that his detention there is now legal and trying to cover up for the illegality of his detention here at the PNP Custodial Center from Dec. 2, 2011 to Jan. 30, 2012)
In cases where court hearings have proceeded, false witnesses were used to support the allegations against victims of trumped-up charges. In many cases, it can no longer be denied that the prosecution’s false witnesses gave testimonies that were uncorroborated, inconsistent and contradictory.
There have been cases, however, where the court simply ignored inconsistencies, contradictories, speculations and fabricated testimonies just to pin down and deny justice and freedom to the accused. A glaring example of this has been in the court’s faulty judgment on the erratic testimonies against Gulam Mundus and Tukan Guindo.
Worse has turned to worst, when in certain instances courts have found the cases against political prisoners as without merit, dismissed those cases and ordered the release of political prisoners, but the Custodial Center command has tried to delay as much as possible--if not totally disregard--the court orders for release and has also connived with the arresting unit to cook up schemes to go around or even just keep delaying the implementation of courts orders in order to keep the release political prisoners in jail, with no qualms at all that injustice and illegal acts of detention are being committed against those political prisoners.
The latest was the effort to block the release of Prospero Agudo, which resulted in its delay by 27 days--itself already an act of illegal detention. The delay could even have been worse, had various efforts not been exerted against the foul blocking and delaying tactics of the custodial center command. In the end, officials from the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) had to come and fetch Agudo themselves to ensure the implementation of the court’s release order.
An earlier case has been the continuing refusal of the custodial center command to implement the court’s order for the release of Kamarudin Awal and Kanakan Eson, ever since it was first issued by a Midsayap, Cotabato City RTC in April 16, 2010, reiterated with finality by the same court--in response to the prosecution’s motion for reconsideration--in Oct. 10, 2010 and reiterated anew in Dec. 16, 2010 by a Quezon City RTC where Awal and Eson filed a case of illegal detention against the chief of the PNP Custodial Center. After this case of illegal detention was brought before the CHR in late February 2011, another malicious maneuver was made--this time for a change of venue of the same dismissed case against Awal and Eson just to continue keeping them under detention through double jeopardy.
Counsel for Awal and Eson also filed a writ of habeas corpus case before the RTC, Branch 220 in Quezon City against the chief of the PNP Custodial Center, and the RTC, Branch 220 again ordered the release of the two. But the PNP Custodial Center filed a motion for reconsideration with various invalid reasons. On January 16, 2012, the PNP Custodial Center for the “Discharge of Kamarudin Awal and Salahudin Kanakan Eson from Confinement”. But again the PNP Custodial Center has refused to release the two, claiming that the court has not made a clear statement ordering the release of the two. Counsel for Awal and Eson thus had to go to court again to ask it to spell out again in black and white the order for the release of the two so that the PNP Custodial Center cannot quibble anymore about the matter.
A related earlier case has been the foul tactic of hitching Badrudin Dalungan to the trumped-up case against “Guimaluddin Edzrafil” and Maueya Abubakar (Criminal Case Nos. 551-2007 and 552-2007 for murder, multiple murder, and multiple frustrated murder, in connection with the bombing of Sheer Marketing in Kidapawan City), after the case he was charged with when he was arrested and detained on Sept. 22, 2009--illegal possession of firearms--was dismissed by the court for lack of merit, and he was ordered to be released.
And even earlier case was the blocking of the release of Ruben Lavilla Jr., who was given a release order by the court, but was immediately re-arrested just as he was stepping out of the custodial center on March 10, 2008. The re-arrest was supposedly based on an “old warrant of arrest” for a “second case” against him that was purportedly already existing even before his arrest in late July 2008 and detention at the PNP Custodial Center since August 30, 2008, but neither he nor his counsel was informed about the case throughout the past two years he was in detention, and only “mysteriously” and suddenly cropped up right after he was released. The “second case” is moreover malicious as legally according to the Hernandez Doctrine, it was already covered by the earlier dismissed case of rebellion.
The unjust arrest and detention of political prisoners particularly stand out as incongruous and treacherous in the case of political prisoners who belong to organizations with whom the GPH has been in the process of peace negotiations. The treacherous arrest and continuing detention of NDFP peace consultants and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) forces, as well as the filing of trumped-up charges and ill treatment being inflicted against them in prison, starkly challenges the sincerity of the GPH in its peace talks with both the NDF and the MILF.
By virtue of the standing NDF-GPH Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG), NDF peace consultants are supposed to be protected from surveillance, arrest, detention and other antagonistic acts. But state, military, police and intelligence authorities have been disregarding the agreement; have been arresting NDF consultants--in arrogant disregard of their status as peace consultants and their supposed JASIG protection; have even vowed to arrest more; and have been refusing to release the detained consultants as part of the GPH’s sine qua non obligation so that peace talks can still proceed.
NDF peace consultants detained here at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame are the following:
Alan Jazmines (member of the NDF Committee in the NDF-GPH Reciprocal Working Committees on Socio-Economic Reforms)
Eduardo Sarmiento (NDF peace consultant representing the Eastern Visayas Region since 1986, and member of the NDF panel that sat opposite the GPH panel in the 1986 local peace talks that took place in Northern Samar in 1986)
Eduardo Serrano (NDF peace consultant representing the Southern Tagalog Region)
Ten other NDF peace consultants are detained in various other jails in the country.
The imprisoned NDF peace consultants have been unable to effectively do their share of the work related to the peace talks. More so, as they are subjected to intense restrictions, including the censorship of their communications, documents, reading and other materials, in utter disregard of the confidentiality of communications and other exchanges between the NDFP peace consultants and the NDF, the NDF peace panel and others related to their tasks for the peace process. Their typewriters have been confiscated, including one provided by the NDF.
NDF peace consultants are particularly the object of repression by prison authorities, especially as the former are in the forefront of struggles of political and other prisoners for their rights and welfare and against the atrocities and abuses of the latter. The most vehement reprisals recently of the PNP Custodial Center command here has been against the ongoing efforts of the NDF peace consultants and other political prisoners here to come out with the studies and documentations of the cases of unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution and detention of practically all political prisoners here, in preparation for the proposed joint investigation of these cases.
Continuing to treacherously arrest, detain and repress NDF peace consultants, and at the same time expecting the peace talks to just go on, only reveals utter lack of seriousness in the peace process on the part of the GPH. It keeps the detained NDF peace consultants hostage to the peace process and subject to the whims of state, military, police and prison authorities, while it also tries to keep those at the opposite side of the negotiation table with their hands tied.
The arrest and continuing detention of NDF peace consultants has become a big stumbling block to the continuation, smooth flow and viability of the peace talks at present. The same goes true in the case of the MILF forces who have been arrested, heavily tortured and continued to be under detention and whose court orders for release are consciously being blocked, even in the midst of an already long running peace negotiations and ceasefire between the MILF and the GPH. This, in order to keep the MILF forces behind bars for as long as the MILF-GPH peace talks have not been concluded and the MILF-GPH armed conflict has not been finally ended.
MILF forces detained here at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame are the following:
The Joint Investigation and Some Recommendations
We are also submitting herewith, the following earlier submitted “Proposed Concept for the Joint Investigation of Cases of Unjust, Arbitrary and Illegal Arrest, Prosecution and Detention of Political Prisoners at the PNP Custodial Center in Camp Crame.”
As concept and procedure of the joint investigation of unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution and detention of political prisoners, the following points are proposed:
1. The joint investigation is to be conducted in the spirit of decisively being in favor of respect for human rights, bringing out the truth and seeking justice towards freeing political prisoners, most urgently those who have been suffering unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution and detention.
2. Participants in the joint investigation are expected to devote themselves, work assiduously and with dispatch and mobilize whatever they can in terms of staff support and resources to accomplish the objectives of the joint investigation.
3. The objectives of the joint investigation include the thorough review of the cases submitted and to be submitted, where unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution and detention have been identified, and accomplish whatever action they can do in their power and with the help of others, make strong recommendations, generate and render assistance, and push for the accomplishment of whatever the joint investigation would be able to resolve and deem necessary to implement.
4. Where documents, data, and other materials needed for the full review and understanding of the cases are not immediately on hand (e.g. where the political prisoners concerned do not have copies of these in their possession and the said materials are still available only in courts distant from their place of detention) and review of their cases, the joint committee should move to have the documents, data and other necessary materials expeditiously brought before it, with copy furnished to the political prisoners concerned and the cost shouldered by the government.
5. Where the nature and the handling of the cases are agreed upon as unjust and illegal, those involved in the joint investigation should with immediacy do all they can mutually and separately to have the cases dismissed, the release orders be made, and to see to it that the release orders are implemented with criminal and administrative sanctions to be applied on those grossly failing or stubbornly blocking the implementation of the release orders.
6. In case of clear injustice, arbitrariness and illegality in the charges against, and the arrest, prosecution and detention of political prisoners, those in position (such as the DOJ) should move to immediately withdraw the case or agree to move for quick dismissal or some legal as well as other “extra-legal” means to be made.
7. In cases where court decisions are faulty or proceeding too slow or not proceeding at all to the grave detriment of the victims of unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution and detention, moves should be made to transfer the venue of the cases to other more responsible, efficient, fair and fast-moving courts, or expedited via some sort of justice on wheels or via executive action by the presidency.
8. In cases where there are major disagreements among those involved or snags in the process progress of the joint investigation, the cases may have to be taken up in other venues for more comprehensive study, such as before the executive branch for whatever executive intervention may be necessary or before the legislature for whatever legislative inquiry and remedy may be necessary.
We add to this some annotations and recommendations:
a. The Commission on Human Rights has fully appreciated the effort, and has, in fact, committed to assume the lead in the joint investigation. We will coordinate with it in regard to schedules, procedures, additional data and documentations, and other key details.
b. The big number of faults in the arrest, prosecution, court processes and detention suffered by political prisoners, whose cases have been documented here, stresses the need for more definitive long-term remedies – aside from the immediate resolution of the cases and the vindication and release of the victims – which may require stronger and more stringent administrative, legislative and judicial measures to prevent or even just significantly minimize their further occurrences in the future. Further supportive legislative and judicial measures in the face of rampant disregard of the Hernandez doctrine is one of these. There is also the marked need for stronger legislative and judicial measures in the face of rampant violations of the right to speedy trial.
c. Given the grave, rampant violations of the human rights of political prisoners, which the documentations here have revealed – deeper investigations would reveal even much more gravity and rampancy – not only should those responsible be made answerable for those human rights violations, more serious, decisive and effective measures should be drawn up and implemented as long-term corrections of such grave, rampant human rights violations.
d. Because of the glaring gravity and proliferation of cases of unjust, arbitrary and illegal arrest, prosecution and detention among the small population of political prisoners here at the PNP Custodial Center, there is now also a need to look into similar cases in other detention centers where other political prisoners are incarcerated.
e. Having seen how heavily marked with foreign (particularly, US) intrusion as well as that of local military and police intelligence units, is the operation of the PNP Custodial Center and the handling of political prisoners here, drastic measures should also be made to put decisive stop to all these intrusions.
f. In the case of detained NDF peace consultants and MILF forces, the GPH is challenged to prove if it truly is sincere and serious in going through with the peace talks with the principals of these political prisoners, and thus make clear and decisive actions for the rectification of the wrongs done to them, the related violations of peace agreements and the very spirit of the peace process, and order their immediate release.
g. The findings of the study and documentation of the cases of the political prisoners here support all the more the demand of the NDF across the peace negotiation table for the release of all political prisoners.
Attached Case Documentations:
Case No. 1 – Ahmad Saifullah Ibrohim Case
Case No. 2 – Didi Resdiana Case
Case No. 3 – Zam Edris Case
Case No. 4 – Jonathan Romero/Abdul Jabar Case
Case No. 5 – Adzhar Barie Case
Case No. 6 – Borhan Mundus Case
Case No. 7 – Gulam Mundus Case
Case No. 8 – Tukan Guindo Case
Case No. 9 – Matar Saliling Case
Case No. 10- Ruben Lavilla, Jr. Case
Case No. 11- Prospero Agudo Case
Case No. 12 and 13 – Kamarudin Awal and Salahudin Eson Case
Case No. 14 – Farhan Sali Case
Case No. 15 – Badrudin Dalungan Case
Case No. 16 – Alan Jasmines Case
Case No. 17 – Eduardo Serrano Case
Case No. 18 – Eduardo Sarmiento Case
Other cases may follow, as other political prisoners here have practically similar cases.
Aside from copies for the direct participants in the joint investigation, copies of this letter and attachments are also being sent to the following:
NDF and MILF peace panels, as half the number of the cases documented are those of NDF peace consultants and MILF members
United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
Human Rights Watch, Asia Division
International Committee of the Red Cross
Your response to this letter and to the request for your representation and participation in the investigation is earnestly awaited.