MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dismissed the charges against fifteen activists and lumad leaders accused of kidnapping some 700 lumad at the United Church of Christ of the Philippines (UCCP) Haran Evacuation Center in Davao City.
The criminal case, initiated by the Philippine National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG), had been filed in court and a warrant for respondents' arrest was issued by the Davao City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 10.
The so-called "Haran 15" then sought a reversal of their indictment.
Before the Davao City trial court, the respondents filed a motion to suspend proceedings and implementation of the arrest warrant pending a ruling on their MR. The trial court granted the plea and ordered a suspension of proceedings and implementation of the warrant until August 1, 2016.
The "Haran 15" claims hundreds of Ata Manobos from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte and San Fernando, Bukidnon fled their lands and sought shelter at the Haran Evacuation Center "due to atrocities committed by the military."
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate welcomed the dropping of the charges.
''We laud the DOJ led by Sec. Vitaliano Aguirre for reexamining and finally dismissing the baseless and purely harassment charges against the Haran 15,'' Zarate said in a statement.
''The military-instigated charges is now exposed as nothing but a desperate attempt to vilify the human rights defenders and the legitimacy of their advocacies like the Haran 15. The dismissal of the preposterous kidnapping and illegal detention case is a vindication not only of the Haran 15 but also of the displaced and militarized Lumads of Mindanao who sought sanctuary at the UCCP-Haran Center in Davao City." – reports from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News; and Johnson Manabat, dzMM