For two days, more than 200 members of the Manobo tribe under the leadership of Mapasu, along with their supporters from other sectors, trooped to the Tandag City Jail to demand the release of Campos.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – A leader of an organization of indigenous peoples in Surigao del Sur who was arrested two days ago was released at around 9:30 p.m., March 25.
Jalandoni Campos, chairman of the Manobo intermunicipal organization in Lianga, San Agustin and Marihatag, Surigao del Sur, Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang sa Sumusunod (Mapasu) and council member of the Mindanao Lumad alliance, Kalumaran, was arrested at 8 p.m., March 23 by policemen in civilian clothes. He was charged with rebellion in connection with the April 28, 2011 raid of the New People’s Army (NPA) on the Philippine National Police (PNP) Lianga station. Thirty-six other civilians and members of Mapasu are also named respondents in the case.
In a statement, Dr. Naty Castro, secretary general of Karapatan-Caraga said the arrest of Campos is ‘blatant political harassment against progressive people’s organizations and partylists.”
For two days, more than 200 members of the Manobo tribe under the leadership of Mapasu, along with their supporters from other sectors, trooped to the Tandag City Jail to demand the release of Campos. The tribe leader was released last night to the custody of Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel, in the presence of Provincial Prosecutor Florito Cuartero and Tandag City Police Supt. Jeffrey Lawrence D. Mauricio.
Judge Alfredo Jalad of the Regional Trial Court Branch 28 in Tandag City signed the transfer of custody order as over 80 members of Mapasu from Lianga and Marihatag stood vigilant outside the court and the Lianga PNP Station.
“Jalandoni Campos’ transfer of custody could not have been accomplished so swiftly without the vigilance of Mapasu and their concerned allies from the different sectors,” Castro said. “The bombardment of support and public outcry hastened the normally snail-paced court process that expedited the signing of the court order.”
Among those who joined the protest actions were teachers from the community schools, parents and pupils and nuns and priests from Catholic and Protestant churches who knew Campos and his organization’s work.
Castro said reliable sources from the PNP informed her that there were at least two attempts made by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and Regional Intelligence Unit (RIU) to transfer the custody of Campos to them.
In a statement, Mapasu thanked all the individuals and groups who worked together and facilitated the transfer of custody of Jalandoni, particularly the Benedictine nuns, Missionary Sisters of Mary (MSM), priests of the Diocese of Tandag, officials of the local government of our province, members of other Lumad organizations.
“We are happy to reach this outcome and this is a new start of another search for truth as the arbitrary, fabricated and malicious cases filed against him and other members of our organization persist,” Mapasu said.
Castro said Campos and other Mapasu members implicated in the case were not informed of the complaint filed against them. She said the warrant of arrest was issued without allowing those accused to respond to the charges against them. She added that Campos is well-known in Lianga as the leader of one of the biggest people’s organizations there.
Campos and Mapasu leaders are active in the campaign against large-scale mining in the Andap Valley complex in Surigao del Sur. They have led the organization to thwart combat and civil-military operations in the 22 tribal communities that resulted in massive forcible evacuation in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011. Mapasu leaders represented the Manobo tribe in negotiations with the operating units of the military to allow their safe and unconditional return during these incidents.
“Clearly there was no reasonable investigation to determine probable cause,” Castro said,
Castro said Fiscal Cuartero has assured Campos’s supporters that he would ensure a reinvestigation of the case.
“We will continue to be vigilant until this case against Mr. Campos and other members of MAPASU is dismissed,” Castro said.
The transfer of custody order to Gov. Pimentel will be effective until the case is resolved.
Castro said the case against Campos and other members of Mapasu is among the 12 documented cases of trumped up charges filed against over 80 leaders and members of progressive organizations in the Caraga region.
Campos was among the 76 Lumad leaders from the whole island of Mindanao who actively participated in the Manilakbayan last December. He was among those who personally sought an audience with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima and Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III to raise the issue of fabricated charges, killings and dislocation of leaders and members of Lumad organizations.
In a statement, Katribu said: “While Campos was awaiting action from the DOJ, he fearlessly campaigned for the Katribu Partylist, including guesting in radio and television programs, knowing that he had nothing to fear as he was innocent of wrongdoing against anyone or against the government, despite the fact that there was a case filed against him.”
For Castro, the arrest of Campos ‘is illustrative of the inutile justice system and continuing impunity in the country.”