Davao Norte Court suspends arrests of 5 activists based in Northern Luzon charged of lumad murder

Mar. 09, 2021

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – A regional court in Tagum City, Davao del Norte province suspended the arrest orders for five activists from Northern Luzon accused by police in the killing of a Lumad in Southern Mindanao in 2018.

Judge Sharon Rose Saracin ordered the re-investigation and suspension of the arrest warrants issued to Windel Bolinget, Lutgardo Jurcales Jr., Jackie Valencia, Agnes Mesina, and Reynaldo Garneng in her response to the separate motions the five activists filed. The order was released on February 19, 2021.

The court also ordered the provincial prosecutor of Davao del Norte to conduct a re-investigation on the charges against the accused and to submit a report within 30 days upon receipt of notice.

Bolinget is a long-time Igorot leader and the chairperson of Baguio-based Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), while the other accused belong to different progressive groups in Cagayan Valley Region.

The five have been implicated to the murder of Lumad Garito Tiklonay Malibato in Kapalong, Davao del Norte in March 2018. However, relatives of the slain Lumad believed that the paramilitary group, Alamara was responsible for the killing.

In a statement, Bolinget, denounced what he deemed as a “trumped-up case” against him, as he asserted that he has never been to Davao del Norte nor to any place in Mindanao in 2018. In fact, he has never been to Davao del Norte his whole life, he said.

“I am not a member of the New People’s Army nor am I a terrorist. I am an unarmed civilian and I believe that continuing the activist tradition of indigenous peoples for human dignity, social justice, land, and environment is crucial in our society,” he said.

Shoot to kill

The Cordillera police ordered a ‘’shoot-to-kill’’ on Bolinget should he resist arrest, which prompted Bolinget to seek custody at the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for his safety since January 2021. The Cordillera police have not revoked the order placed on Bolinget.

Despite the recent court’s decision, the CPA said the threat to Bolinget’s life and other leaders of CPA and allied organizations remains following the memorandum from the Police Regional Office-Cordillera encouraging local governments to declare CPA and its member organizations as persona non grata, alleging them as supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The group raised its concern on the resolution of the Regional Law Enforcement Coordination Committee to conduct “tokhang” to left-leaning personalities in the government, media, and other organizations.

“If any harm befalls Bolinget and other leaders and members of the CPA and its allied organizations, the police and military are accountable as they are the only ones who have such motive as they implement the End Local Communist Armed Conflict program which clearly targets Bolinget, the CPA, and legitimate political dissent,” the CPA said on a statement it released on March 8. (davaotoday.com)

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