From the Philippine News Agency (Apr 25, 2020): Release of jailed Reds injustice to Filipinos, victims’ kin (By Benjamin Pulta)
Solicitor General Jose Calida (File photo)
Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to dismiss a petition seeking the release of detained communist rebels.
Calida, on April 24, asked the court to dismiss a petition for lack of merit, saying "to grant the petition would result in grave injustice not only to the People of the Philippines but also to the surviving relatives of petitioners' victims who are still waiting for justice to be finally served."
The petition, he said, "is one that involves perception and deception", noting that while the petitioners in the suit claim to be political prisoners, they are actually under detention for non-bailable offenses.
Some five of the 22 petitioners are charged before Branch 32 of RTC Manila with 15 counts of murder for their involvement in the Inopacan massacre, which came to light after 68 skeletal remains were discovered in Inopacan, Leyte in 1992.
They were the victims of the inhumane Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) internal cleansing dubbed project "Venereal Disease," Calida said.
"One must call a spade a spade. The petitioners are all valuable members of the terrorist organization,” he said.
He added that "without a doubt, this petition is a ruse" to remove them from the confines of jail.
"Contrary to their claim, there are no humanitarian considerations involved but merely opportunistic legalism to distort established judicial processes," Calida said.
He said the petitioners' continued detention affords them "ready access to government resources if and when the dreaded virus reaches the doors of their cells, no less different outside their cells."
The petition filed on April 8 by the Public Interest Law Center and the National Union of People’s Lawyers was on behalf of 22 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs).
They said the petition also covers prisoners who are similarly situated “but cannot be included in this petition due to the difficult circumstances”.
It also asked the High Court to compel the government to create a Prisoner Release Committee, “similar to those set up in other countries, to urgently study and implement the release of all other prisoners in various congested prisons" throughout the country.
Among those listed as petitioners at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology and at the Manila City jail were Dionisio S. Almonte, 62; Ireneo O. Atadero Jr., 57; Alexander Ramonita K. Birondo, 68; Winona Marie O. Birondo, 61;Rey Claro C. Casambre, 68; Ferdinand T. Castillo, 60; Francisco O. Fernandez Jr, 71; Renante Gamara, 62; Vicente P. Ladlad, 70;Cleofe S. Lagtapon, 66; Ediesel R. Legaspi, 62; Adelberto Silva, 72; Alberto L. Villamor, 63;Virginia B. Villamor, 65; Emmanuel Bacarra, 55; Oliver Rosales, 48; Oscar Belleza, 63; Norberto A. Murillo, 66; and Dario Tomada, 60.
Detained at the Bureau of Corrections is Lilia Bucatcat, 73.
Ge-ann Perez, 21, is detained at the Taguig City Jail Female Dormitory while Reina Mae Nasino, 22, is detained at the Manila City Jail Female Dormitory.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.