Presentation

In the six years of the Duterte regime, a total of 442 politically-motivated EJKs happened under Duterte’s watch. This means that there is at least one victim of EJK per week in the six years of Duterte. The killings can be disaggregated as follows: 130 EJKs happened in Luzon; 119 happened in Visayas; and 193 happened in Mindanao.

In terms of organizational affiliation, a disproportionate number of victims were members of peasant organizations, often affiliated with the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP). Among these victims were farm workers under the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), as well as church workers who were assisting farmers’ organizations in their advocacies, such as Fr. Marcelito “Tito” Paez of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP). Other church workers and religious were among those murdered throughout the five years.

Patterns

Similar to the observation made by former United Nations Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions Philip Alston in 2006, the modus operandi of the killings under the Duterte administration also involved motorcycle-riding assassins, often wearing bonnets to conceal their identities.

Assailants sometimes used unmarked motorcycles and passed off their activities as isolated cases of common crimes. Nevertheless, the pattern in the killings is clear, and the targets are often activists, members or leaders of activist, progressive or mass organizations, trade unions, workers’ or peasant associations, women’s or youth groups, or cultural/artistic activist groups.

Only months into the pandemic, activists and organization leaders who were already victims of red-tagging and state intimidation prior the public health emergency such as Carlito Badion of urban poor group Kadamay, Randall Echanis of the KMP and Anakpawis Partylist, as well as Zara Alvarez, a human rights worker in Panay were soon assassinated.

Trumped-up charges

Conclusion

At the outset, these cases were already questionable for the following reasons:

  1. Non-Compliance of the Due Process. Naul was not officially and personally furnished copies of the Complaints as required by the rules. They were only able to know about these cases through the Karapatan – Caraga Chapter. Moreover, Naul was not named in the Complaint, and yet was subpoenaed by the Prosecutor.
  2. Wanting of factual basis in finding probable cause against the Accused. The complaints failed to establish the positive identities of Naul as being one of the perpetrators of crimes committed on December 19, 2018 at 3:00 in the morning, much less her slightest participation in therein.
  3. Physical Impossibility for Naul to be in two places at the same time. Naul submitted, along with her counter-affidavit, proof of her respective activities and location at the time of commission of the crime. Accordingly to the records, on December 19, 2018, Naul was brought to St Ignatius Hospital in Cagayan de Oro City to undergo laboratory examination to determine the causes of her bronchitis and asthma which she was experiencing in the days prior. Then on December 20, 2018, Naul was then brought to Polymedic General Hospital for further check-up. Yet the documentary evidence consisting of hospital records and other certifications were simply brushed aside by the prosecution.
  4. Wrong offense charged. Both complaints allege Naul and all the other Accused as members of the New Peoples’ Army – an armed rebel group associated with the Communist Party of the Philippines – and they allegedly committed the crimes of Arson, Kidnapping and Robbery on December 19, 2018 as such. Under Philippine case law, the acts or offenses committed by rebels are stripped of their “common” complexion and thus acquires the political character of the crime of Rebellion. Thus, the crime charged should have been only Rebellion and not the ordinary and separate crimes of Arson, Kidnapping and Robbery. The correctness of the crime allege would significantly change the nature and essence of the case(s).
  5. Falsus in Onus, Falsus in Omnibus. The complainants in these cases, who were members of the Philippine National Police and its auxiliary groups swore to tell the truth in stating their allegations and filing their complaints. One of their allegations included naming one human rights lawyer, Atty. Jose Begil and Vicente Libona as part of the raiding team on the eve of December 19, 2018.

In his counter-affidavit, Atty. Begil showed proof that he is a member of the Philippine Bar in good standing and that he is regularly appearing before the courts of law in Agusan and Surigao provinces, such that he could not have been one of the perpetrators of the crimes committed on December 19, 2018.

Libona, for his part, showed proof that he has been languishing in jail at the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail for over ten (10) years now, and that there could have been no way for him to get out of prison only to commit another crime(s), much more in that part of Agusan del Sur, more than a hundred kilometers outside Misamis Oriental.

For these reasons, Atty. Begil and Libona were dismissed from the charges, along with eight (8) others.

This as a flaw in the complaints which thus presents a ground for their quashal as a falsity in one allegation makes everything else a falsity. The truthfulness of statements made by the complainants in their Judicial Affidavits of Complaint is debunked and discredited, thus raising serious doubts as to the certainty in their identification of the accused as perpetrators of the crimes alleged to have been committed. Hence, the complaints should be forthright dismissed.

After almost two years in detention, these cases against Naul and 16 others from Northern Mindanao Region were dismissed, for which reason Naul was released to freedom.