PHILIPPINES: Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie is finally free

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to forward an urgent appeal from Free Cocoy Tulawie Movement.

For more information, please contact: Max de Mesa,

Thank you. 
Urgent Appeals Desk 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) 

PHILLIPINES: Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie is finally free

On behalf of the Free Cocoy Tulawie Movement, we are very happy to inform you that Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie is finally free after obtaining a verdict of acquittal on July 21, 2015 by Hon. Judge Marlo A. Magdoza-Malagar of RTC-Manila Branch 19.  The dispositive portion of the decision states that:

“WHEREFORE, after an evaluation of available evidence, the court finds the accused Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, Juhan Albani Alihuddin and Abner Salahi Tahil NOT GUILTY of the charges against them, on ground of insufficiency of evidence. No costs.”

This legal victory is a product of the concerted efforts of national and international human rights organizations, the Commission on Human Rights and civil society organizations who came to the aid of a human rights defender from Sulu.  Cocoy was clearly a victim of persecution and harassment by then Governor Abdusakur Tan who in 2009 declared the entire province of Sulu in a state of emergency and sanctioned warrantless search and seizures.

The verdict of acquittal, however, is now being challenged by no less that your very own Solicitor General who recently filed a Petition for Certiorari dated September 14, 2015 questioning the decision of Judge Marlo A. Magdoza-Malagar on grounds of grave abuse of discretion.

Together with representatives from the European Union, Asian Human Rights Commission, IPON-Germany, the Commission on Human Rights, and the Mindanao Peoples Caucus serving as trial observers, we were personally present during the trial of the Tulawie case since it was transferred to Manila from Davao City on December 18, 2013 up to the promulgation of judgment on July 21, 2015.  During this period of rigorous and contentious trial, we have personally observed how Judge Malagar handled this case and we can personally attest on her competence, fairness, integrity, professionalism and deep knowledge of the law and court procedures.  Judge Malagar is one of those young, dynamic, intelligent and incorruptible new breed of judges in the Judiciary who deserve to be commended and recognized for restoring trust and confidence in the justice system.  We admire her for her integrity and courage and we can only pray that her brand of administration of justice will grow and flourish in all courts all over the country.

We simply cannot reconcile the fact that the Solicitor General and Prosecutor General are now trying to ANNUL and SET ASIDE the Decision of Judge Malagar and in effect insist that Cocoy Tulawie should be convicted.  If the prosecution simply did not have the evidence to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, why attack and fault the Judge for simply doing her job?

In the interest of justice, we appeal to you, Mr. President, to review and revoke the action of your very own Solicitor General and Prosecutor General lest they become what human rights icon, Atty. Rene Saguisag, described as instruments of PROSECUTORIAL TERRORISM.  This persecution has no place in your “matuwid na daan” government.

The act of your Solicitor General and Prosecutor General only affirms the finding of Judge Malagar that the interest of the prosecution was only towards the conviction of the intended target, alluding to Cocoy Tulawie, instead of ferreting out truth and justice.  This portion of the Decision is enlightening to mention:

“If the prosecution’s true objective was to attain justice and to bring all those responsible for the bombing to answer for their crimes, and not merely to focus all its energies to secure the conviction of the intended target, it would have, at the very instance, and in a fit of outrage, initiate the inclusion of Amon and Said as accused in these cases, at the very moment when both admitted their involvement in the bombings, and in open court, no less. But no. In a surprising turn of events, it had to be this court, after hearing Said’s confession that had to direct the public prosecutor to conduct an investigation of Sali Said and ultimately include him among the accused in these cases. More surprisingly still, after Sali Said was included as an accused in these cases, with the filing of a separate Information against him, it was the private prosecutors, under the employ of Governor Tan who moved heaven and earth to exempt him from prosecution, by praying before the Department of Justice that Sali Said be included in the witness protection program. As it appeared, the prosecution intended the protection extended by the DOJ to be Sali Said’s protection against this court and this court’s processes, as it uses Sali Said’s admission into the program as a justification to compel this court to drop him as an accused. When the prosecution insisted on its interpretation that the DOJ’s admission of Said into the witness protection program has in effect turned him into a state witness and therefore, exempt from prosecution, it had argued for an interpretation which necessarily was a diminution of the court’s authority to decide who should or who should not be a state witness, which authority it does not share with DOJ (see Section 17 Rule 19). Needless to state, this application for a protection order in favor of Sali Said, an admitted outlaw, brigand and murderer makes one wonder whether this elaborate effort to spare him from prosecution is part of an unholy bargain the private prosecutors had struck with Sali Said — for the latter to testify and ensure the conviction of the intended target in exchange of the assurance that he (Said) be spared from prosecution and be immediately freed from detention in his other cases. For how else could one make sense of the actuations of the private prosecutors engaged by Governor Tan?

Governor Tan cannot claim ignorance of his lawyer’s actuations. In his testimony, he stated that he knew all along that it was his lawyer from Zamboanga City, Atty. Wendell Sotto who assisted Said in the separate case that the latter was facing. He also knew it was also Sotto who secured protection for Said from the DOJ.”

Mr. President, may we request for a personal meeting with you together with the Commission on Human Rights on December 1, 2015 so that we can directly discuss this matter.  We hope that you will be able to accommodate this request. We thank you Mr. President for your unwavering support for human rights.

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.

Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : AHRC-FUA-003-2015
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Administration of justice, Human rights defenders, Torture,