PHILIPPINES: Abadilla Five marks 12 years in jail

(Hong Kong, June 12, 2008) Twelve years ago tomorrow, Colonel Rolando Abadilla, an influential police colonel during the regime of late President Ferdinand Marcos, was murdered. His murder resulted in the arrest of five men now known as the Abadilla Five, who through the years have persisted in challenging their conviction for his murder in court.

Moon Jeong Ho, AHRC urgent appeals programme coordinator, has reminded the Supreme Court (SC) , where the Abadilla Five’s appeals for Petition for Review on Certiorari remains pending since May 5, to take notice of the number of years the appellants have spent in jail.

He said the SC has yet to make a ruling on the appellants’ petitions challenging the April 1 decision by the Court of Appeals (CA) which affirms the decision by the lower court convicting them for murder. The five appellants were sentenced to life imprisonment as the CA amended its original sentence of death.

“Once again we urge the SC to act promptly to effectively resolve the petition of the appellants”, Moon said as he renews his appeal.

Meanwhile, as Moon welcomes the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) decision to resume their long overdue investigation into the case of another five men, collectively known as Tagaytay Five, he also urges the CHR to act on the pending complaint of torture and violations of rights filed by the Abadilla Five.

The Tagaytay Five, namely Riel Custodio, Axel Pinpin, Enrico Ybanez, Michael Mesias and Aristides Sarmiento, have filed complaints against the policemen who arrested and detained them with the CHR on June 2006; however, they have not been able either to conclude or recommend the filing of cases in court since.

The AHRC also issued an appeal on their case following their arrest and incommunicadodetention for several days on 28 April 2006. See: UA-143-2006.

However, while the Tagaytay Five’s complaint is yet to be concluded, the CHR’s recommendation to prosecute the police officers and those responsible for arresting, detaining and torturing the Abadilla Five has not been filed in court for the last 12 years. See: AHRC-STM-037-2008.

The CHR concluded on July 1996 that the Abadilla Five’s rights have been violated and subsequently recommended the filing of charges in court. However, the case remains pending with the Office of the Ombudsman for the Military and Other Law Enforcement Offices (MOLEO).

The last information received from the MOLEO’s office was on 16 July 2007, wherein the Abadilla Five’s legal counsel lawyer Soliman Santos was notified that the case is “still pending (for) preliminary investigation.”

Moon instead urges the CHR into taking effective measures to monitor cases to ensure the effective prosecution of perpetrators and to afford victims adequate remedies.

Document Type : Press Release
Document ID : AHRC-PRL-016-2008
Countries : Philippines,
Campaigns : Abadilla 5