Exactly two months since the arrest of #HRD7, their families and colleagues have filed a complaint letter at the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City to seek help from the rights commission investigating the thrown allegations and charges—ranging from the released ‘factory’ of search warrants, to the conduct of raid operations, the ‘planting’ of evidence, and eventually the illegal arrest—against the seven detained individuals.
Subsequently, a protest action was initiated by human rights advocates to express unity with the families upon reverberating their demands for the immediate release of #HRD7. The families have also released pigeons to soar high as a symbol for freedom and liberty.
In the complaint letters submitted to CHR chairperson Jose Luis Martin Gascon, the families mused that the arrest is “politically motivated” which has long been perpetuated by the Duterte administration thus implemented by state authorities.
They decried the incident transpired on December 10 which, ironically, was a commemoration for the global human rights day.
Diane Zapata, wife of Dennise Velasco, was the first who made public a Facebook post saying that there had been a raid operation in their house during the wee hours.
“State forces led by the Philippine National Police (PNP) forcefully entered our home […] [and] rummaged through our house and our belongings, planted guns and explosives, and arrested Dennise based on this evidence,” said Zapata in her written complaint.
On December 23, Zapata added such injury felt by the family along with Dennise himself when the PNP denied his release after posting bail and obtaining a release order from the court due to an amended memorandum order from the Assistant City Prosecutor based on a motion for reconsideration (MR) from PNP.
“Dennise nor his counsel were not given a copy of the said motion and was not given the chance to the MR,” Zapata furthered.
Zapata reiterated for CHR to “hold responsible the Duterte government and the state agents on the acts of human rights violations”.
“Joel Demate is a labor union organizer, an activist not a terrorist, and a human rights defenders,” affirmed by Corazon Demate, wife of Joel Demate.
Corazon lamented that the unjust arrest and detention of her husband has no basis given the ‘fabricated’ search warrant.
“He is wrongfully accused of ‘criminal gang activities’, ‘gun running’ and ‘communist rebellion’,” Corazon added.
Aminah Disangcopan and Ella Durana also had the similar sentiment.
“She had had no firearm in her custody nor stored at their unit,” Disangcopan, sister of Romina Astudillo, wrote in her written complaint.
“Sa aming pananaw, sa legal na proseso, at batas, ito ay malinaw na paglabag sa kanyang karapatan bilang tao. Ang mga itinanim na ebidensya at gawa-gawang kasong ito ang dahilan kung bakit siya ngayon ay nakadetini sa CIDG-NCR sa Camp Crame,” said Durana, wife of Mark Ryan Cruz.
Jasma Salem, sister of Manila Today editor Lady Ann Salem, lamented that arrest of Lady Ann made her emotionally unstable.
“I had a hard time especially emotionally because everyday I couldn’t sleep and kept on thinking, crying, and worrying about my sister’s condition,” Jasma stated.
She pondered that what she and her family feel could also endure by Lady Ann behind the bars of Mandaluyong City Jail Female Dormitory. Traumatizing was that feeling, according to Jasma, that they were not able to see at least a glimpse while their family spent Christmas and New Year holidays.
It must be noted that the alleged cases against Lady Ann alongside trade unionist Rodrigo Esparago has been dismissed by the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court of Branch 209 through Presiding Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio on February 5. Three days after, the legal counsels for Lady Ann and Rodrigo then filed separate urgent motions for release given the decision of the court.