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ATTORNEY URGENT  ALERT

 

PHILIPPINES

 

23 October 2008

 

Arbitrary detention of

Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr.,

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a human rights and labour attorney, member of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers .

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Source    AHRC-UAC-239-2008

 

 

 

 

Veteran labor lawyer and columnist Remigio Saladero, 49 years old, member of the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE); chief legal counsel for Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), an alliance of Trade Unions,  was reported to have been abducted from his home which his family found ransacked. He was confirmed to be held by the military at Camp Vicente Lim. Mr. Saladero is being charged with conspiracy to commit rebellion and murder for allegedly participating in an undisclosed murder in Mindoro; charges such as these are becoming increasingly more common tactic used by the government as it steps up its legal attacks against civil society organization in the Philippines, politicians, church leaders and labor activists, who speak out against the policies of President Arroyo.

 

 

On  October 23, 2008, members of the Philippines National Police (PNP) from Antipolo city entered Atty. Remigio Saladero’s office and showed him a warrant of arrest for multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder cases, which was reportedly issued by Branch 40 of the Mindoro Oriental Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Calapan city, Oriental Mindoro. Said warrant was allegedly defective as it bore a wrong name and was dated back to 2006. Atty. Saladero was then handcuffed and removed from his office, along with his mobile phone and computers, and taken to Calapan City Provincial Jail. He was officially charged for “multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder cases”, along with 72 other persons. Other human rights defenders are believed to be among them but no further information could be obtained as of issuing this urgent appeal.

Atty. Saladero is also facing other judicial proceedings. Following the bombing of a Globe Cellsite in Lemery Batangas on August 2, 2008, the military and Globe Telecoms filed a complaint against 27 leaders and activists from Southern Tagalog Region, including Atty. Saladero, for “conspiracy to commit rebellion, arson and destruction of property”. The investigation is ongoing and Atty. Saladero has not been officially charged yet.

As of issuing this urgent appeal, Atty. Saladero remained detained in the Calapan City Provincial Jail.

There is strong reason to believe that these charges have no basis, and were manufactured in order to harass Atty. Saladero for his work as a human rights defender of workers and trade unions. Atty. Saladero was indeed one of those who argued before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of President Gloria Arroyo’s calibrated pre-emptive response policy. Atty. Saladero has been subjected to various attacks in the past mostly from the military for being the lawyer of suspected members of the New Peoples’ Army in Rizal. Furthermore, PLACE, of which Mr. Saldero is a member, has been subjected to harassment and surveillance from unidentified men believed to be military agents, and as of yet Mr. Saladero’s legal team has been refused any documents pertaining to his arrest.

Saladero is the chief legal counsel of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU). Saladero and his law firm is also a long time partner of the CTUHR in training and workshops on legal and court system in various parts of the country.

Before the police took custody of Saladero, there have been incidents of overt surveillance conducted at the office of their labour center, PLACE.
 
Saladero was a professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines University and Dominican College, all in Metro Manila. He is also a columnist of the Pinoy Weekly, an online newspaper where he writes about various labor cases in the Philippines.
 
Saladero, a San Beda law graduate, was one of the top 20 board passers when he took the bar examination in 1984.

Urge the Philippines to comply with Article 12.2 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any threats, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

ACTIONS REQUIRED:

Please write to the authorities of the Philippines urging them to:

  1. Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr. and that of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;
  2. Immediately release Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr., as his detention is arbitrary as it seems to sanction his activities as a human rights defenders;
  3. End all forms of harassment, including judicial harassment, again human rights defenders in the Philippines, and guarantee in all circumstances that they be able to carry out their work without any hindrance;
  4. Conform with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and above-mentioned Article 12.2;
  5. More generally, ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by the Philippines.

COPY THE ENCLOSED LETTER AND SEND IT TO THE ADDRESS PROVIDED.

 

LETTER : 

[Your name and address here]

 

Dear Ms. Arroyo

 

I am to writing to voice my deep concern to the continued arbitrary detention of Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr. after the police unit mentioned above have forcibly took him from his house on 23 October 2008.

Though the police were carrying arrest orders for Saladero's alleged involvement in murder charges, I am deeply concerned over the irregularities in the issuance of the order which raised concerns that he had been arrested over fabricated charges. The name written in the order and the address of a person subject of arrest was different from his.

When the policemen took him from his house, the policeman who first came to serve the order did not properly introduce himself. Instead of introducing himself and his companions to him and their purpose, the first one who approached the victim deliberately wears plainclothes asking the victim who he was; and only after they got confirmation from the victim himself that he was their supposed target did the police came to serve the arrest order.

In this scenario, the policeman have misrepresented themselves and misled the victim into believing they are not members of the security forces, which have taken advantage of the victim's weakness being a lawyer who is often visited and approached by ordinary persons regarding the cases that he handles.

Apart from that, the searches the police have conducted which resulted to the disarray of the Saladero's place and seizure of documents without properly explaining to him the purpose and of presenting orders allowing them to do so, is completely unacceptable and are contradictory on matters on policing regarding gathering of evidence. The police' refusal to allow him, while he was in their custody, to contact and inform his relatives that he was in police custody and of his whereabouts was also condemnable.

He was first taken to the Rizal Provincial Police Headquarters in Antipolo before he was transferred to Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna. On October 24, he was taken to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 40 in Calapan City in Mindoro Oriental before he was transferred to the provincial jail there where he is presently detained.

It is disappointing that when the paralegals who are helping Saladero's case tried to obtain the court documents regarding the charges filed against him, the court clerk have refused to provide them the copies invoking various reasons. Therefore, it prevented Saladero's family and the group helping his case from immediately learning about the charges filed again him; and of how to effectively help his case.

Apart from the murder charges, I have also learned that Saladero has been charged with arson and conspiracy to commit rebellion together with 18 other activists mentioned above for allegedly burning a cell site of a telecommunications company in 2 August 2008.

I have learned that it was only early this month that Saladero came to know that he was amongst those subjects for investigation even though the preliminary investigation has already order to commence on August 12. I am gravely concerned over the irregularities in inquiry at the prosecutor's office in Batangas province. In doing so, it has prevented once again the victim and his co-accused from making their defense and from being properly informed of the charges filed against them.

I am deeply concerned that the charges filed against Saladero that resulted to his continued arbitrary detention and arrest; and filing of charges to 18 other activists, could have been done to frighten and to prevent them from doing their activities in helping victims of abuses without fear.

For Saladero's part, prior to his arbitrary arrest, the office where he is attached, PLACE, has since been the object of soldier's obvious surveillance. Their office has also represented over 700 pro-bono cases involving labour disputes, complaints involving violation of rights, amongst others. Thus, his arbitrary arrest and detention has effectively prevented him from performing as lawyer and to represent his clients in court cases--which is unacceptable.

Also, to accuse Saladero as having been involved in rebel activities is physically not possible for him given him his poor health condition and of his law practice. He had heart ailment and is also a diabetic. He also had a public life. He also reports to his office regularly, appears in court cases and conduct legal consultations to his clients--this put the claims of him having involved in a rebel group highly questionable.

It is shocking that the lawyers who are representing the poor sectors of the society are themselves targets and are themselves victimized. I therefore urge you to conduct a thorough investigation into the allegations against the policemen and the charges filed against him. If proven that there are no substantial evidence to hold him and his co-accused for trial, their case must be withdrawn.

Yours sincerely,

 

[Signature]



ADDRESSES :

1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph


2. Ms. Leila De Lima
Commissioner
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: chr.delima@yahoo.com or mtm_rodulfo@yahoo.com


3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
E-mail: bluetree73@gmail.com


4. Mr. Raul Gonzalez
Secretary
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: raulgonzalez_doj@yahoo.com


5. Mr. Ronaldo V. Puno
Secretary
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
A. Francisco Gold Condominium II
EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman
Quezon City
PHILIPPINES
Fax: +63 2 925 0332
Tel: +63 2 925 0330 / 31
E-mail: rvpuno@dilg.gov.ph


6. Mr. Christopher Lock
Court Administrator
Office of the Court Administrator
Supreme Court of the Philippines
New Supreme Court Building Annex
Padre Faura St.,Ermita,
1000 Manila
PHILIPPINES
Tel: +63 2 525 5741 / 521 5133


7. Oscar Calderon,

Director General of the Philippine National Police (PNP),

Camp General Rafael Crame,

Quezon City,

PHILIPPINES

Tel: +632 726-4361/4366/8763

Fax: +632 724-8763

Email: bluetree73@gmail.com

 

 

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