PAMPANGA, Philippines - It was an ordeal that might make him P480.5 million richer. Farmer Edgar Candule, however, said the money still isn't worth it.
Candule, a member of an Aeta community in Botolan, Zambales, was arrested on March 21, 2008 on suspicion of being a member of the communist New People's Army (NPA).
He was charged with illegal possession of firearms and violation of Republic Act 9372, also known as the Human Security Act (HSA).
Candule was eventually acquitted and released from detention last November 10.
Fearing for his life, he hid for a month before he and his lawyer agreed to meet with ABS-CBN News in Pampanga province.
Edgar nervously rubbed his palm against his thighs while recounting his hardships behind bars. "Tinali nila ako sa monobloc gamit ang wire, tapos kinuryente ako sa kamay, paa, at dibdib,” he said.
Edgar now wants justice for his almost 3-year incarceration. "Kahit magsasaka lang ako, ipaglalaban ko ‘to," he declared.
The Aeta farmer stands to be a multi-millionaire if the court grants his lawyer's appeal for P480.5 million in damages.
Atty. Rolly Miranda from the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) said the lawsuit is based on section 50 of the HSA which provides compensation of P500,000 per day of imprisonment for any accused acquitted of the crime of terrorism.
He said the money will be taken from the budget of the Philippine National Police, the intelligence funds of the President, and if this still isn't enough, it will be automatically appropriated in the national budget.
Miranda believes that the HSA is dangerous because it can be used against the so-called “enemies of the state."
"Kahit hindi ka NPA, kung kaaway ka ng gobyerno, pwede kang arestuhin kahit walang warrant,” he said.
The NUPL plans to refile its petition before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of the HSA.