SF CHRP (San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines) is a San Francisco based human rights advocacy group. Latest news and views on human rights in the Philippines.
Marya Salamat writes about the use of “John Doe” arrest warrants to harass and intimidate activists in the Philippines:
Is the Aquino government renewing the use of John Doe-named warrants of arrest previously used by the Macapagal-Arroyo government? Three cases have been recorded so far in just one week leading to Dec 10 Human Rights Day. On Dec 3, two organizers of public sector employees’ confederation COURAGE were arrested in separate incidents in Metro Manila and were later surfaced in Camarines Norte. On Nov 29, a former community organizer in Palawan and now a resident of Rizal was arrested in his house in Cainta by the Rizal police. In all arrests, a human rights lawyer said there were irregularities.
Wilson ‘Bogs’ Manggao, a father of two and in his early 30s, was arrested by the Cainta police on Nov 29 by reason of a warrant of arrest issued on February 20, 2008 by the Regional Trial Court of Palawan, Branch 49, for murder. He was allegedly part of the NPA team that abducted and eventually killed a certain Agustin Alvarez in Brgy. Marutinas, Puerto Princesa City on January 17, 2003.
The arrest surprised Wilson Manggao and his wife, who said they had nothing to do with the alleged crime.
According to lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr., no preliminary investigation was conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office of Puerto Princesa before the Information and warrant of arrest were amended to include one “Wilson Mangao” alias “Ka Macmac”.
Lawyer Saladero said the warrant for Wilson’s arrest is defective because it does not give his name correctly. It was issued for one “Wilson Mangao;” Wilson’s correct name is “Wilson Manggao”.
Wilson’s wife, assisted by the Rizal National Union of People’s Lawyers ( NUPL-Rizal), filed a petition for habeas corpus before the Court of Appeals last December 11, 2012, one day after International Human Rights Day.
Wilson’s case is reminiscent of the case of 72 political activists, popularly called the ST 72, in 2008, where a “John Doe” warrant was also issued initially, but were later amended to include the names of 71 suspects after a supposed “deep penetration agent” of the military surfaced. As in Wilson’s case, the ST case did not also undergo preliminary investigation. The warrant also contains erroneous names and addresses of the 71 accused.
“The resurgence of John Doe arrest warrants is disturbing”, lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr., one of Wilson’s lawyers and a member of the ST 72, told Bulatlat.com. “It forebodes something sinister in President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III’s counter-insurgency program.” Saladero urges human rights defenders and activists to “strongly condemn this development in the Aquino administration’s Oplan Bayanihan.”