DAVAO CITY: Advocates for the protection of human rights and leaders of progressive organizations welcome the decision of the court dismissing kidnapping and serious illegal detention cases filed against 15 individuals.
“We are happy that these cases were dismissed,” said Sheen Duazo, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan). She said the cases are “trumped up” and purely designed to harass and intimidate them.
Davao City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma, in a resolution issued on September 8 and was only recently released, dismissed the case filed against Duazo and 14 others, including a nun and a pastor from the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP).
The filing of the cases came at the height of the controversial botched rescue operation launched by North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco of the displaced indigenous people or lumad from the compound of UCCP Haran in Davao City in July. Catamco is the chair of the House Committee on Indigenous Peoples.
Her stint was widely criticized as the lumad refused to go home, citing their concern over the presence of the military in their communities and the constant harassment of the military-backed militia, Alamara.
Officials of the Eastern Mindanao Command and Catamco herself had been saying that the displaced lumad in UCCP Haran were victims of kidnapping, human trafficking, and are held against their will.
But the court said the cases, filed by seven members of the Matigsalog tribe, were without basis and insufficient.
“It would have been hard to conceal the kidnapping because the UCCP Haran is near the Bankerohan public market,” the resolution reads, adding that “kidnapping ‘en masse’ at the heart of the city and confinement in a church is to say not plausible.”