Karapatan slams wrongful conviction of volunteer health worker on trumped up charges

“For the government, what has been a more rampant practice of inconveniencing persons and violating people’s rights – perhaps more rampant than the tanim-bala experience of travellers in Philippine airports – is the tanim-baril/bomba modus operandi of the police and military against activists and development workers to justify their illegal arrest and detention,” said Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General of Karapatan, as they received reports of the wrongful conviction of volunteer health worker and political prisoner Miguela Piniero. 



In a decision promulgated on November 17, 2017 at the Regional Trial Court Branch 153 in Taguig City, Judge Mariam Bien deemed Piniero guilty of trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions, with a penalty of six years imprisonment to reclusion perpetua. 

On February 4, 2012, Piniero was illegally arrested by soldiers of the 85th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and members of the Philippine National Police-Quezon Province. At the time of her arrest, Piniero was serving as a volunteer barangay health worker of the Center for Ecumenical Development Action and Research (CEDAR), an institution that works with local governments on health and livelihood projects. 

In her testimony in court, Piniero said the soldiers and police planted evidence in her bag. She was blindfolded and tied. She was then brought to the headquarters of the 85th IBPA where she was beaten and interrogated for three days, before she was transferred to the Taguig City Jail. 

“Not only was Piniero arrested without a warrant, but she was denied of her most basic rights while under the custody of her captors. All the court had as basis of Piniero’s wrongful conviction were the lies peddled by the soldiers and the police, who are not exactly the most reliable sources of information. No physical evidence of Piniero’s possession of the said gun and ammunitions were produced and presented in court. Bases for reasonable doubt are aplenty,” Clamor stated. 

Karapatan said that military and police notoriety in their practice of planting evidence, whether these are guns, explosives or drugs, is an open secret among those in the criminal justice system. “Huwag na tayong maglokohan – our criminal justice system is one big industry of liars, scums, racketeers, and fascists. And the poor, including volunteer health workers like Piniero, are being victimized,” Clamor stated. 

“With the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) of the military and police, health and development workers, volunteers, and human rights activists are exposed to more precarious situations. Recent statements of Duterte on a crackdown on progressive organizations will once again be considered as direct orders by state forces to arbitrarily arrest anyone and everyone,” he concluded.

Reference: Roneo Clamor, Deputy Secretary General, +63 999 772 1233

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580