Press Release – July 22, 2008
Reference: Marie Hilao-Enriquez, Secretary General (Mobile No.
Karapatan says CA decision “anti-victim,” won’t help find Jonas
The human rights group Karapatan scored the Court of Appeals for its
‘cowardly decision’ on the petition for the writ of habeas corpus and writ
of amparo petitions of Mrs. Edith Burgos, mother of missing activist Jonas
“CA justices are trying to be on the safe side at the expense of the life
of Jonas, their dismissal of the case won’t help find him,” said Marie
Hilao-Enriquez, Karapatan Secretary General.
Karapatan is incredulous of the CA’s belief that the military had nothing
to do with Jonas’ abduction when so much evidence have been provided by
the petitioners and state security forces incriminated itself by claiming
Jonas to be a rebel, thus revealing their motive.
Hilao-Enriquez criticized the CA for its “anti-victim” decision. “At first
glance, the CA seems not to have a clear stand. Their criticism on the
lack of investigation by the police and military smacks of tokenism which
they thought would appease the Burgos family,” Enriquez said, adding that
“It’s plain and simple cover-up of the crime and the magistrates refused
to see through it.”
The human rights group said that since last year, many of the members of
the CA had not successfully tried cases of human rights violations and had
been remiss in giving remedy to victims seeking redress.
It will be recalled that the CA had made a similar cowardly decision on
the habeas corpus petition for UP students Karen Empeño and Sherlyn
Cadapan when it said “the military is not telling the truth” but on the
same breath said there is no proof that the military have the missing
women in their custody.
“If our judges continue to act and decide this way, all remedies resorted
to by the Supreme Court will be made inutile and unavailing to the victims
and their families. Worse, this will breed more impunity,” Hilao-Enriquez
Student Christian Movement of
NCCP Compound, 879 EDSA Quezon City
Mobile Number: 09289526973 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
JULY 22, 2008
"A step backward for justice"
Christian students dismayed over dismissal of petition for writ of
"This is a step backward for justice for victimes of human rights
This was the statement made by the Student Christian Movement of the
Philippines after the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for the writ
of amparo and habeas corpus of so-called "landmark cases" of victims of
human rights violations.
Among the recently dismissed cases were the petition for the writ of
habeas corpus for Jonas Burgos, and the petition for the writ of amparo
for NDF member Elizabeth Principe and daughters of slain peasant leader
Newspapers also reported this morning the dismissal of the writ of amparo
petition for Francisco Saez, witness of the Gumanoy and Eden Marcellana
killing in 2003.
According to SCMP chairperson
Biyaya Quizon, they least expected this at a time when the families and
victims only have the courts of justice to rely on.
"These are landmark cases which we hoped will show that the judiciary does
have an active stand on the dire situation of human rights in the
country," Quizon said.
The group also expressed fears that the same may happen to the petition
for the writ of amparo of missing University of the Philippines students
Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan.
"It is true that the writ of amparo and writ of habeas corpus does not
promise to render absolute justice for the victims, and yet by the recent
developments, we ask: where then shall they ask for justice?" Quizon said.
The group then addressed their appeal to the judiciary, "We appeal to the
courts not to stop at a point where justice remains elusive for all the
victims," she added.
The Court of Appeals has cited the lack of evidence linking the military
as behind the abductions and disappearances. ###
Reference: Ma. Cristina Guevarra, secretary general and public information
Biyaya Quizon, chairperson 09289526973
Free Berlin Movement
Pastor Berlin Guerrero Case
We appeal for your support for the release of Pastor Berlin Guerrero from
the Cavite Provincial Jail. Pastor Berlin has been detained for more than
one year on a trumped-up charge of murder. On June 10, 2008, the Supreme
Court remanded our motion for Pastor Berlin’s immediate release to the
Court of Appeals on the grounds that the Supreme Court is not the “trier
As the evidence against Pastor Berlin is fabricated, it naturally appears
very weak as well. Our lawyers have contended the case should be quashed
(or thrown out without even going to trial) as there is not probable
cause/sufficient evidence for the case to be filed in the first place. We
are waiting again for the action of the court. We greatly appreciate your
letters that have been noted by the Supreme Court. We are hopeful that
letters directed to the Court of Appeals for urgent action will bear good
Here is a brief timeline/update of the highlights of the legal process:
May 27, 2007 Pastor Berlin, his wife and children were on a tricycle
departing from the UCCP Malaban local church in Binan, Laguna. The
tricycle was cut off by an unmarked van. Men with guns surrounded the
family. As they pulled Pastor Berlin into the van, the family yelled for
them to show a warrant. The bag of Mylene (Berlin’s wife) was also grabbed
as it contained a camera with a picture of an alleged ‘intelligence agent’
who had attended the church for a few weeks.
Pastor Berlin was interrogated and tortured at an unknown location. The
questions hurled at him centered on accusations that Berlin was an officer
of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Cavite Province. They also
forced him to give the password to his email account and interrogated him
on all people with whom he worked within the UCCP, ecumenical circles, and
the people’s movement. They tortured him psychologically and physically.
Several times Pastor Berlin passed out from suffocation. He thought he
would be killed.
May 28, 2007. After around 18 hours disappeared, Pastor Berlin was brought
to Philippine National Police Camp Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite. Only
after his captors had turned him over to the police was he instructed to
remove his blindfold and was eventually allowed to call his family to say
that he was alive. When Atty. Emilio Capulong and a UCCP team arrived on
the scene in the early evening, the PNP gave fax copies of two warrants of
arrest. One warrant executed in 1992 was for a charge of murder. The
second executed in 1988 was for a charge of inciting to sedition; the
second warrant had been served to Pastor Berlin in 1992 and he was
released after posting bail. No file has been located on the charge of
inciting to sedition.
May 29, 2007. The Commission on Human Rights and the Health Action for
Human Rights conducted medical evaluations of Pastor Berlin. They
documented his contusions, abrasions, and lacerations. Both reports
concluded the Pastor Berlin has been subjected to ill-treatment and
May 31, 2007. UCCP General Secretary Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua held a
dialogue with PNP Chief General Oscar Calderon, where General Calderon
confirmed that he had ascertained the unit of the Naval Intelligence
Security Forces that took Berlin into custody. He agreed to ask the
commanding officer to identify the suspects of the torture of Pastor
June 14, 2007. Protestant Lawyers’ League of the Philippines made an
Urgent Motion for the Release of the Accused with a Complimentary Prayer
to Quash the Warrant of Arrest and to Dismiss the Information at the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Bacoor, Cavite on the charge of murder.
August 2, 2007. Presiding Judge Matias M. Garcia II denied the motion
(basically contending that a lack of probable cause is not basis for to
Quash the Information).
August 24, 2007 Senator Jovito R. Salonga of Kilosbayan joined as counsel
for Pastor Berlin and filed at the Supreme Court a Petition for
Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court
for grave abuse of discretion of Judge Matias M. Garcia. This petition
sought to nullify the denial of the motion on August 2, 2007, to prohibit
from proceeding any further with the case at the Regional Trial Court, to
order the dismissal of the Information for murder against Pastor Berlin
Guerrero, and his immediate release from detention.
September 4, 2007. The Supreme Court ordered a COMMENT from Judge Matias
M. Garcia II and the Solicitor General within 10 days of their receipt of
the Supreme Court order.
October 3, 2007 Judge Matias M. Garcia II filed his COMMENT basically
repeating that lack of probable cause is not a basis for Quashal of the
September 28, 2007. Solicitor General filed motion for a thirty (30) day
extension to file COMMENT.
October 30, 2007. Solicitor General filed motion of another thirty (30)
day extensions to file COMMENT.
November 29, 2007 Solicitor General filed motion for a third extension to
December 10, 2007. Solicitor
General files COMMENT (more than three months after the Supreme Court
Order for COMMENT). ►►►
January 15, 2008. Supreme Court requires the attorneys of Pastor Berlin to
file REPLY to the COMMENT of the Solicitor General.
March 17, 2008 REPLY filed by attorneys of Pastor Berlin re-stating that
there is lack of probable cause in the case of murder. They also filed an
Urgent Motion for Resolution of the Petition.
June 10, 2008 Supreme Court REMANDS case to Court of Appeals on the basis
that the Supreme Court is not the “trier of facts.” For more information,
refer to new article,
Current We await notification from the Court of Appeals on where the case
of Pastor Berlin Guerrero has been assigned. We pray that the case will
not be allowed to be delayed for months and months; we anticipate that a
hearing will be called by the Court of Appeals to determine the merit and
facts of the case.
Call to Action-Letter Writing
It has already been more than
one year that Pastor Berlin V. Guerrero has been in prison, we enjoin you
to add your voice to the many who are praying for his release. We are
appealing for you (individually) and/or your church/group/community to
write letters to two places—the Court of Appeals where a motion for Pastor
Berlin’s release has been REMANDED and to the Solicitor General who is
opposing Pastor Berlin’s release. We also ask that you send a copy of your
appeal letters to the family of Pastor Berlin Guerrero both to boost their
moral and so that we are able to update you any future actions of news on
the case of Pastor Berlin. We have highlighted in the sample letter form
the number of weeks Pastor of Berlin is detained. Our target is to
organize our local churches, ecumenical and international partners and
solidarity links to send at least one letter per week as a sustained
reminder of the broad support for Pastor Berlin and his family. Thank you
very much for your support and participation.
Please mail the following letter to the Court of Appeals Justices at:
Court of Appeals of the Philippines, Maria Y Orosa Street, Ermita 1000,
Manila. For monitoring purposes and as an encouragement to the family,
please Xerox your letter and send it to: Pastor Berlin V. Guerrero Family
c/o UCCP North-East Southern Tagalog Conference, UP Los Baños, Los Baños,
Hon. Conrado M. Vasquez, Jr.
Court of Appeals
Maria Y Orosa Street
Ermita, 1000 Manila
To the Honorable Justices of the Court of Appeals of the Philippines:
On May 27, 2007 Pastor Berlin V. Guerrero was abducted in front of his
wife and children as they traveled home from the local church where he was
a pastor in Malaban, Biñan, Laguna. After heavy torture and interrogation
completely unrelated to the charge against him, Pastor Berlin has now
spent one year and (insert #) weeks in prison on a trumped-up charge of
We appeal for a speedy resolution of the case of Pastor Berlin Guerrero.
We know that Pastor Berlin continues his pastoral ministry within the
Cavite Provincial Jail, and we are certain that he is detained for
political rather than criminal reasons. We urge you to prioritize this
case as testament to the pursuit of justice and democracy in the
Pastor Berlin V. Guerrero is one amongst many Filipinos who have been
abducted, tortured, disappeared and killed under the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Administration. We enjoin your efforts to bring justice to the many
victims of Human Rights Violations. Our prayers are with you as you are
challenged to address these injustices. We join this appeal for a speedy
resolution of the case of Pastor Berlin as we also join in the efforts to
bring peace based on justice to the Filipino people.
And the following Letter to the Solicitor General:
Hon. Agnes VST Devanadera
Solicitor General, Republic of the Philippines
134 Amorsolo St. Legaspi Village, Makati City
Dear Hon. Agnes VST Devanadera:
We appeal for your support for the speedy resolution of the case of Pastor
Berlin V. Guerrero, now pending with the Court of Appeals. We are certain
that Pastor Berlin has had nothing to do with the murder of which he has
been accused. As a servant of the people of the Philippines, we appeal to
your better wisdom toward justice for you to allow the release Pastor
Berlin Guerrero who has already been detained for more than one year and
(insert #) weeks. The release of Pastor Berlin will be step toward peace
and democracy in the Philippines.