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”.
Please write to the authorities of the
Philippines urging them to:
the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr.
and that of all human rights defenders in the Philippines;
release Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr., as his detention is arbitrary as
it seems to sanction his activities as a human rights defenders;
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
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;
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.
[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
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
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.
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.
1. Mrs. Gloria
Republic of the Philippines
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80
2. Ms. Leila De
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
4. Mr. Raul
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
Fax: +63 2 521 1614
5. Mr. Ronaldo
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG)
A. Francisco Gold Condominium II
EDSA cor. Mapagmahal St., Diliman
Fax: +63 2 925 0332
Tel: +63 2 925 0330 / 31
Office of the Court Administrator
Supreme Court of the Philippines
New Supreme Court Building Annex
Padre Faura St.,Ermita,
Tel: +63 2 525 5741 / 521 5133
General of the Philippine National Police (PNP),
General Rafael Crame,
TAKE ACTION NOW