DAVAO CITY – The Office of the City Prosecutor here dismissed the case against 15 activists on allegations that they kidnapped and detained the Lumad evacuees in a church compound.

The resolution, dated September 8 said the case filed by the tribal leaders against the activists lack sufficient evidence. The copy of the resolution received by Davao Today indicates that the court ruling was received by the Ateneo Legal Services Center on Thursday.The resolution was signed by Prosecutor II Samuel Alencia and approved by City Prosecutor Nestor Ledesma.

The complaint with the docket number XI-02-INV-15-E-1848 was filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office against the activists in July for violation of Republic Act (RA) 267 or Kidnapping, Serious Illegal Detention and RA 9208 or the Anti-trafficking in persons Act of 2003 as amended by RA 10364 or the Expanded Anti-trafficking of Persons Act of 2012. (Read: Cases against activists lodged after IP’s mass evacuation)

Included in the complaint were Rev. Jurie Jaime, Sheena Duazo, Hanimay Suazo, Ryan Lariba, Tony Salubre, Jimboy Marciano, Mary Ann Sapar, Jaja Necosia, Pedro Arnado, Kerlan Fanagel, Sr. Stella Matutina, Sr. Restita Miles, Isidro Indao, Kharlo Manano, Riuz Valle and many John Does.

The case was filed by members of the Matigsalug-Manobo tribe of Sitio Inayaman, Barangay San Jose, San Fernando Bukidnon namely Datu Kalumpot Dalon, Datu Larie Landahay, Libara Angkomog, Toto Angkomog, Juvnie Angkomog, Limar Mangomoy-at and Tata Angkomog-Lundia.

The complainants alleged that some time in January this year, they were promised free sacks of rice, grocery items, farm tools, among others, if they join an invitation to visit Davao City “to attend a dialogue with (President Benigno Aquino III, Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Congressman Manny Pacquiao).” They said they were invited by one alias “Kumander Jose”.

The complainants said they and other IPs were then housed at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran compound in Father Selga St., Davao City.

They said no free goods were given to them as promised and that they were made to join a rally in the Army camp in Panacan here.

The complainants said they were returned to their village in the mountains on February 26, 2015.They also said that they were prohibited from leaving the compound.

“On many occasions, the tribesmen decided to escape the compound, but they decided against it, because they have no fare money. They even admitted that one of them was able to escape the compound, but was caught at the Davao Terminal and brought back to the compound,” said the resolution.

However, it also said “(it) is essential in the crime of illegal detention  that there be actual confinement or restriction of the person of the offended party.”

“Thus, if the alleged victim had freedom to leave the premises where she was allegedly confined, the crime of illegal detention cannot rise because she was not deprived of her liberty,” it said.

The resolution added that kidnapping would have been hard to conceal “since the UCCP Haran compound is right near Bankerohan Market. Kidnapping “en masse” in the heart of the city and confinement in a church compound is to say the least, not plausible.”

“It would have been hard not to notice this forced confinement. There were no armed guards to restrict their movement,” it said.

The resolution also defined trafficking in persons as “the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery, servitude, or the removal or sale of organs.”

“There is no prostitution, pornography, sexual exploitation, forced labor, slavery, involuntary servitude, debt bondage and armed activity,” the resolution said.(davaotoday.com)

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