NDF Consultant Hopes for Freedom After Court Junks Rebellion Raps

Detained National Democratic Front consultant Elizabeth Prinsipe is heartened after an Ilocos regional trial court judge dismissed the rebellion charges against her and ordered her release. It’s one down, three more pending cases to go, for Prinsipe.

BY ROD TAJON
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Northern Dispatch
Posted by Bulatlat

CANDON CITY, Ilocos Sur (347 kms. north of Manila) – After almost a year in detention, National Democratic Front consultant (NDFP) Elizabeth Prinsipe is looking forward to her freedom. This, after the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 in Candon City, Ilocos Sur dismissed the rebellion raps against her on Oct. 22.

RTC Branch 23 Presiding Judge Gabino Balbin Jr. dismissed the charges against Prinsipe, and ordered her release from the custody of the Philippine National Police (PNP) unless there are still other pending cases against her. He also ordered that her name be dropped from the rebellion charge in criminal case 1260.

“I hope this will be the first step towards my release,” Prinsipe said in Iloco in her interview with DZTP. She however noted that her husband, Leo Velasco, also a consultant to the NDFP is still missing. “I believe he is under the custody of the military because of his work as a peace process consultant,” she concluded.

Prinsipe was abducted Nov. 28, 2007 in Cubao, Quezon City as she came out of a diagnostic clinic. She was kept incommunicado and was surfaced three days later in a joint press conference of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP in Fort Bonifacio. Her husband Leo Velasco was abducted February 19, 2007 in Cagayan de Oro and had been missing since.

Lorena Santos, Prinsipe’s daughter and a human rights worker for the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (KARAPATAN), also hoped her mother would be released soon.

Santos, however said that her mother still has three pending cases of rebellion, murder and robbery in the provinces of Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela, all in Cagayan Valley Region where she served as a paramedic in poor communities. Santos said that the PNP originally claimed to have filed seven cases against Prinsipe, but three cases were invalidated because the copies were said to have burned in a fire.

“This is one of the many battles we are fighting,” Santos said. “This just means the cases against my mother are baseless.”

“We will still continue to struggle until my mother is freed and my father surfaced, and so are all other political prisoners and victims of enforced disappearance,” Santos told the press shortly after the court hearing.

Prinsipe is currently detained at the Camp Crame Custodial Center in Quezon City.

No probable cause

Judge Balbin cited the result of the preliminary investigation conducted by Ilocos Sur Provincial Prosecutor Redentor Cardenas that showed “no probable cause of the crime of rebellion shall likewise be entered against her.���

The resolution was issued by the Ilocos Sur provincial prosecutor’s office as a result of the motion for reinvestigation filed by Prinsipe’s lawyers from Cordillera Indigenous People’s Legal Center (Dinteg) led by Atty. Rene Cortes, and Prinsipe’s son and lawyer Anthony Prinsipe of the Public Interest Law Center (PILC).

Prinsipe was implicated along with her husband and eight others in rebellion charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in 1991 after they allegedly strafed the house of then Philippine Constabulary (PC) SSgt. Victoriano Jallorina.

On January 22, this year, Prinsipe was transported by the PNP to the Candon RTC for her arraignment, which was deferred because of the pending petition for the writ of amparo filed by her family.

The RTC Branch 23 granted on July 4, the motion for the preliminary investigation filed for Prinsipe by her lawyers. She submitted her counter-affidavit in August.

Cardenas dismissed the charges filed against Prinsipe last September and stated that the evidence “was not actual but only presumed and in accordance to the tenets of Criminal Law, any doubt should always be interpreted in favor of the innocence of the accused.” (Northern Dispatch/posted by (Bulatlat.com)

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