Tagaytay 5 released, trumped-up charges dismissed


August 28, 2008




"The dismissal of trumped-up charges and release of Tagaytay 5 is a victory for human rights."

                                                 ---- Ruth Cervantes, KARAPATAN Public Information Officer.


Photos courtesy of PCPR


Press Release – August 28, 2008

Dismissal of trumped-up charges and release of Tagaytay 5, a victory for human rights – KARAPATAN

The human rights alliance KARAPATAN expressed elation over the release of Tagaytay 5 and the dismissal of the trumped-up rebellion raps filed against them.

"The dismissal of trumped-up charges and release of Tagaytay 5 is a victory for human rights," said Ruth Cervantes, KARAPATAN Public Information Officer.

Aris Sarmiento, Axel Pinpin, Riel Custodio, Michael Masayes and Rico Ybańez, collectively known as the Tagaytay 5 were released from prison at 4PM today, August 28 (Thursday).

Cervantes said of the decision to dismiss the case and free the five, "The stroke of the judge's pen is a vindication of our conviction that those who work for a better society must not be criminalized and must be set free."

"We congratulate those who have worked for the freedom of Tagaytay 5 and those who continue to fight the Arroyo regime's sinister moves to foist false cases against social activists who fight for people's rights," Cervantes said.

KARAPATAN welcomes Tagaytay 5 to their new-found freedom and urged them to file criminal charges against state security forces that abducted them, kept them incommunicado and detained them despite their innocence.

"Human rights violations continue to be committed under this regime and it is justified to fight back and combat impunity," Cervantes said.

KARAPATAN also reiterated their call to implement UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston's recommendations to abolish the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) that is orchestrating the fabrication of criminal charges against activists and critics of the Arroyo regime.###

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Today, e-mails went back and forth with the happy news that Riel R. CUSTODIO, Aristides Q. SARMIENTO, Axel Alejandro A.PINPIN, Enrico Y. YBANEZ, and Michael M. MASAYES, collectively known as the “Tagaytay Five,” have all been released from detention and that the rebellion charges against them have been dismissed in court!

It has been a difficult period for these political prisoners from the day of their illegal arrest in April 28, 2006 and all throughout their detention. They were tortured, rendered incommunicado and denied counsel for days after their arrest, subjected to inhumane prison conditions and plagued with numerous delays to have their day in court. For their work with the peasants and farmers, they have been targeted and vilified as terrorists. As political prisoners, they were treated by the military and the government as being guilty until proven innocent.

Men of lesser principles would have succumbed to despair but not these men. The “Tagaytay Five” fought with the weapons they wielded behind bars – their fasting and hunger strike, their poetry, and their militancy. Their fierce determination and strong faith that pressure from inside and outside of prison would ultimately unlock their prison doors never wavered.

While the judicial ruling released the “Tagaytay Five,” we see this order as the culmination of the arduous campaign that these detainees, their families, supporters, human rights groups and people’s organizations have worked on for over two years.

Truth is stronger than evil. Truth outweighs lies and falsehoods anytime, anywhere. Truth finds allies and friends everywhere in the world. And the “Tagaytay Five” proved just that.

However, justice for these detainees will not be complete until punishment is meted out to those state security forces who abducted them, tortured them, kept them incommunicado and detained them despite their innocence. The unjust detention has caused the detainees and their families a lot of emotional suffering as well. No less than the Commission on Human Rights recently recommended the filing of criminal and administrative charges against the Cavite Police and the Naval Intelligence and Security Force for human rights violations committed against the “Tagaytay Five.” It is time that the military learn that they are not above the law.

We join the “Tagaytay Five” and their families in their celebration of their freedom from detention.

29 August 2008
Email: cps_hr@yahoo.ca