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PHILIPPINES: Political Detainees freed on Human Rights Day

PHILIPPINES: Political Detainees freed on Human Rights Day


December 13, 2013

Three (3) Muslim victims of arbitrary arrest and detention were released last December 10, 2013, Human Rights Day after the Taguig Regional Trial Court's decision that they were victims of mistaken identity.

Mujeener Dagam Cabalo and his two other co-accused were released from the Special Intensive Care Area of the Camp Bagong Diwa under the decision of Taguig City RTC 266 Honorable Judge Toribio E. Ilao, Jr. The three were released because it was proven that they were not the same person charged in the information issued by authorities.

According to the human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), on March 5, 2013 at about 9:00am, around ten joint operatives of the Mindanao Area Police Intelligence Office (MAPIO), Regional Intelligence Division (RID),Regional Public Safety Battalion 9, Police Regional Office (PRO) 9, arrested Mujeenar Dagam Cabalo, allegedly a suspect in a bombing incident that happened in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato in October 2007.

Based from TFDP's documentation, the victim was arrested right after he was discharged from Ciudad Medical Zamboanga due to his heart ailment in February 2013. He was brought to the police station in the Municipality of Sta. Maria in Zamboanga City, where he was interviewed and taken mug shots and documentation. Mujeenar narrated that at the station, the police confiscated his mobile phone, then moments later they returned it to him but he noticed that all of his contacts had been deleted.

According to Cabalo, the police showed them a warrant of arrest for a certain "Aman Kabalu", of which the family said that it was not him. The police showed a picture of a pale and thin picture of him that was probably taken recently and contained the name of certain Aman Kabalu. The police refused to be identified after being asked by the victim's wife and the victim himself.

Cabalo is a resident of Latuan Baluno, Isabela City, Basilan Province, Island of Mindanao and a madrasah teacher since 2007. He was confined at Ciudad Medical Zamboanga, Zamboanga City in Mindanao on February 22, 2013 due to heart ailment.

"There are instances that there are Muslims being arbitrarily arrested on the basis of similar names. And there are reports that this is being resorted to because there is reward money," said Emmanuel Amistad, Executive Director of TFDP.

Mujeener Dagam Cabalo is one of the more than three hundred political prisoners and detainees who were victims of arbitrary arrests and detention, torture and political incarceration in the country.

"Unfortunately, the victim (Cabalo) is afraid for his safety because of information received from sources that he might be arrested again. This information came from Mindanao that the Police still looking for possibilities to implicate him in another case." Rita Melecio, Deputy Executive Director of TFDP said.

"Despite the Peace Talks, arrests and detention of Muslims continue under the banner of "war on terror'," added Melecio.


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