Saturday, February 12, 2011

PAHRA reiterates urgency for Benigno S. Aquino, Chief Executive and Commander-in-Chief: Order Fair and Speedy Resolution of Landmark PICOP 6 Case

11 February 2011

Reference: Candy Diez (0927) 4012416

The Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates calls on President Benigno Aquino III to expedite the resolution of multiple murder case against 12 members of the AFP. Six workers of the Paper Industries Corporation of the Philippines (PICOP) were disappeared in October 14, 2000 with strong evidences of the involvement of 12 members of the 62nd Infantry Battalion assigned in Agusan del Sur.

“The families of the PICOP 6 workers have been waiting for more than ten years for justice. There are incidents which proves that accused military personnel are working to prevent the truth from coming out.  As chief executive and commander in chief, President Aquino must give clear instructions to agencies and institutions under his responsibility and command to exercise extraordinary due diligence to resolve fairly and speedily the landmark PICOP 6 multiple-murder case.” Max de Mesa, PAHRA chairperson said.

Former Sgt. Esequias Duyogan, the key witness on the multiple murder case, is currently under threat. He survived an attempted ambush in August 2010 in which he identified two of the armed men as among the accused soldiers in the case. In January 2011, there were reported attempts to the lives of his wife and two children. Unidentified men climbed up the family’s roof while the following morning, two bonnet-wearing men circled their home.

PAHRA further appealed to the Department of Justice to follow through their commitment to immediately transfer convicted Corporal Rodrigo Billones to a penitentiary. Corporal Billones was convicted in July 11, 2008 as an accomplice for the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case filed by the families of the PICOP 6. Years after his conviction, Billones was reportedly seen residing in a separate quarter from the detention area in the Patin-ay provincial jail in Agusan.

“As commander-in-Chief, Aquino must order the concerned officers and men to halt all kinds of harrassments and threats, even coursed through third parties, against the families of victims and the witness with his family as well as the human rights defenders assisting these people.” De Mesa added.

The PICOP 6 workers - Joseph Belar, Jovencio Lagare, Romualdo Orcullo, Diosdado Oliver, Artemio Ayala and Arnold Dangkiasan were at the entrance of a videoke bar when Corporal

Rodrigo Billones from the 62nd Infantry Battalion, 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army herded the six kargador (carrier) of logs to the military camp. A friend of the missing workers was able to evade the abduction by concealing himself in the crowd. He saw the six workers being held at gunpoint from the peryahan (village carnival) and brought inside the army camp gate.

Sgt. Duyogan attested that he witnessed the bashing of the heads of the 6 workers with iron pipes and how several members of the 62nd IB dug graves and buried the dead bodies.

A joint criminal complaint for multiple murder, grave coercion, kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and torture were filed against Col. Eustaquio Cabando, 2nd Lt. Enrico Calumag, PFC Miguel Bachecha, Sgt. Fernando Cagadas, Sgt. Angel Perilla, Sgt. Cesar Polito, PFC Jocelo Pitos, MSgt. Ventorito Saballa, PFC Bienvenido Veto, Sgt. Renante Castaneda, PFC Jesus Patrimonio and PFC Ronda in July 11, 2008. The case is under preliminary investigation before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Patin-ay, Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur.


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