Solon: Remove judges, fiscals involved in filing harassment cases

BAYAN MUNA Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares yesterday hailed the filing of charges against a judge and a prosecutor in Negros by Makabayan Party leader Romulo Bitoon for their involvement with the military on filing harassment cases against activists, human rights defenders and even members of political parties such as Makabayan.

“The prosecutor could not charge a person by merely putting in his name to replace a ‘John Doe’ without giving the accused the right to a preliminary investigation. This is against the due process rights of an accused and is a violation of the DOJ Circular issued by then Sec. Franklin Drilon prohibiting the use of John Does without aptly describing them in the criminal complaint as this is prone to abuse” said Rep. Colmenares.

“Also judges are not expected to issue warrants of arrest on the basis of these faulty and highly irregular complaints filed by prosecutors.  I hope the Supreme Court and the Justice Department will immediately intervene to stop this practice and sanction those who are found committing these abuses. If we allow this kind of a legal tactic, then any human rights advocate, opposition member, media, even elected officials could find themselves being arrested and jailed without knowing why,” said the solon.

Rep. Colmenares also confirmed that the DOJ is preparing a circular to reiterate the prohibition of the use of “John Does” to harass activists. “The Justice Secretary herself condemned this practice during the congressional hearings on the DOJ Budget. She promised to issue the appropriate circular to proscribe this practice,” he said.

“The battle against impunity must not only be waged on the perpetrators of human rights abuses.  We must also go after the support structures of impunity that makes it difficult to hold the perpetrators accountable thereby shielding them from investigation and prosecution.  Human rights lawyers all over the country, especially members of the National Union of Peoples Lawyers (NUPL), should start filing criminal, administrative and civil cases against witnesses who commit perjury, the military and police who file the malicious and false criminal complaints, the fiscals who file criminal cases without a preliminary investigation and judges who issue warrants on the basis of these harassment suits.  Those found guilty of conspiracy in these harassment cases has caused so much suffering on many human rights advocates and they must not only be removed from office but must also be convicted and sent to prison so that they will get a taste of what they have made others suffer,” he stressed.

“This should also serve as a warning to those who plan to file harassment cases against members of political parties like Bayan Muna and Makabayan similar to the case of the famous Batasan Six in 2007.  These acts are in fact partisan political activity which can merit additional sanctions against judges, prosecutors, the police and other public officials,” Colmenares said.

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