UPDATE (Philippines): Falsely charged workers released on bail face legal action to be sent back to jail


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-001-2010
ISSUES: Arbitrary arrest & detention, Freedom of association, Inhuman & degrading treatment, Right to health,

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is pleased to inform you that 14 of the 20 workers who were held for over two years after having been falsely charged have been temporarily released from jail. They were released after a Regional Trial Court (RTC) granted their petition to post bail; however, after their release their employer who had filed charges against them has asked the court to reverse its decision. They also sought to increase the bail to an amount the workers could not possibly afford.


In our previous appeals UAC-102-2009 and UAU-027-2009, we mentioned about the prosecution and continued detention of 20 striking workers over questionable charges, two of the detainees have already died in jail from tuberculosis.

On November 20, 2009, the court judge hearing the detainees’ case, Ma. Teresa Cruz San Gabriel of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 80, in Morong, Rizal, granted the detainees’ petition to post bail for their temporary liberty. Judge San Gabriel recommended for a P60, 000 (USD 1,292) bail for each of the detainees.

The families of the detainees and the organization helping them, the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR), helped in raising the amount. However, of the 18 detainees, only the bail for the 14 detainees had been secured. Instead of paying P 60,000 for each of them, the families of the detainees and the CTUHR paid by a surety bond in a form of an insurance premium, which requires only 15 percent of the P 60,000 bail cost.

Thus, the 14 detainees were released after paying a surety bond worth a total of P 126, 000 (USD2, 713).  The four others, namely Claro Claridad, 28; Andy Salarson, 29; Joseph Atienza, 34 and Pulido Baguno, 30, remain in jail as their families will have to raise a total of P 36, 000 (USD 775) for their bail. One of them, Andy, is ailing with suspected tuberculosis which has already killed two of his colleagues.

Those released on separate occasions on December 18, 19, 20 and 28 in 2009 were Jessie Bergona, 22; Rodolfo Mendoza, 30; Melanio Delovino, 29; Renato Lopez, 33; Crisanto Sabaten, 18; Emuel Vergara, 25; Richard Sabuco, 27; Joseph Atienza, 34; Julius Alcantara, 36; Bobby Maglay, 30; Robert Camagay, 23; Leo Sabaten, 20; Sonny Batuyang, 39 and Romeo Amit, 36.

Two of the released detainees, Sonny and Richard, recounted in a video documentary titled “Pasko ng Paglaya (Christmas of Our Freedom) how difficult it was in an overly congested jail that needlessly exposed the detainees to illness and a variety of communicable diseases. Two of their companions, Melvic Lupe and Leo Paro, died in jail after contracting tuberculosis.

But on December 28, 2009, the complainants against the workers had opposed the court’s decision granting them bail for their temporary liberty.

On January 11, 2010, the court heard the Motion for Reconsideration (MR), which seeks for the court’s reversal of its decision. In their petition, they argued that the detainees should have not been granted bail arguing that the nature of the charges laid on them is severe. The detainees had been charged with serious illegal detention. They also argued that should the court grant bail, it should be increase it from P 60, 000 to P 200, 000 (USD 4,307) for each of the detainees.

The RTC has given the workers’ legal counsel, Atty. Remigio Saladero, ten days from January 11 to reply to the complainant’s petition and set the next hearing for March 8, 2010.


In the Philippines, under the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, article 3, section 13 has clearly stipulates that “the right to bail shall not be impaired” and that “excessive bail shall not be required”. Only on cases where the ‘evidence of guilt is strong’ and that the probability of the accused of escaping from prosecution, that the right to bail may be denied by the court hearing the case.

In this case, none of these conditions exist. Neither is the evidence against the detainees strong and nor are they capable of escaping from prosecution. Also, to increase the amount of bail to P 200, 000 is itself excessive for them. The accused were ordinary factory workers, they have no properties and in fact the reason why they are being prosecuted was because of their demands to be paid a minimum wage and other lawful benefits due to them. The workers were paid only half of the P 320 (USD 6.6) minimum wage a day prompting them to go on strike.

There are also questions to the admissibility of the evidence against the workers.

One of the evidence that were used was photographs supposedly showing the workers padlocking the gate of the establishment. However, none of the persons in the picture resembled any of the workers. Also, while the workers were holding their strike outside the establishment any person entering and exiting the establishment were never prevented, including their employers and other workers.

Please write letters to the concerned authorities below, in particular the court judge hearing the case, to call their attention to the workers’ Constitutional right to post bail.

The AHRC is also writing letters to the Special Rapporteurs on the question of torture, human rights defenders and the independence of judges and lawyers.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________,

Re: PHILIPPINES: Falsely charged workers released on bail face legal action to be sent back to jail

Names of the worker temporarily released:
1. Sonny M. Batuyang, 39, married, of Banaba Extension San Mateo, Rizal
2. Romeo M. Amit, 36, married, of Barangay San Isidro Taytay, Rizal
3. Jessie A. Bergona, 22, ofBanaba Extention, San Mateo Rizal
4. Rodolfo D. Mendoza, 30, of Village St., Cainta, Rizal
5. Melanio A. Delovino, 29, of Villa Tupaz, San Juaquin, Pasig City
6. Renato B. Lopez, 33, of J. Pasig, Cainta, Rizal
7. Crisanto D. Sabaten, 18, of Banaba Extention, San Mateo, Rizal
8. Emuel Vergara, 25, laborer, of Fairview, Quezon City
9. Richard P. Sabuco, 27, of Abnay St., Sitro Lupang Arenda, Barangay Sta. Ana, Taytay, Rizal
10. Julius S. Alcantara, 36, of Barangay San Isidro, Taytay, Rizal
11. Bobby A. Maglay, 30, of Tomana Concepcion, Marikina City
12. Jason T. Alvarez, 22, of Loveros, Antipolo City
13. Robert B. Camagay, 23, Barangay San Isidro, Taytay, Rizal
14. Leo D. Sabaten, 20, of Banaba, San Mateo, Rizal
Names of the workers who remain in detention:
1. Claro M. Claridad, 28, married, of Nangka Marikina City
2. Andy S. Salarson, 29, single, of Concepcion, Marikina City
3. Joseph M. Atienza, 34, of Marikina Heights, Marikina City
4. Pulido I. Baguno, 30, of Kabisig Floodway, Cainta, Rizal
All of them are presently detained at the Karangalan Police Station, Cainta, Rizal
Name of their company:
Karnation Industries and Export, Inc., a company engaged in the business of manufacturing and exporting goods such as handicrafts and of trade on wholesale and retail basis.
Name of the complainants:
Willy Sia, Ma. Teresa Costales; Milo Guido and Elly Carsula, of the Pansy Accessories Corporation.
Status of the case:
The charge filed against the workers for Serious Illegal Detention remains pending at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 80, in Morong, Rizal. In November 2009, the court granted the workers petition to allow them to post bail. The complainant, however, is questioning the court’s decision to grant them bail.

I am writing regarding the case of the 18 workers, whose names are mentioned above, who were formerly employed with the Karnation Industries and Export Inc. The workers had been prosecuted for serious illegal detention since May 2007 after they held a strike outside their company’s premises demanding from their employer the payment of their minimum wage and other lawful benefits due to them.

The charges laid on the workers did not have any substantial progress until July 2009 when proper legal representation was made for them. Originally there were 20 of them charged; however, two of their companions have already died after contracting tuberculosis at the detention center in Cainta, Rizal. Their deaths had been aggravated by the poor jail conditions, lack of food and vitamins and lack of adequate medical attention that should have been afforded to any detainees.

While I deeply appreciate the Regional Trial Court (RTC) granting of the workers’ petition to post bail for their temporary liberty on November 2009, I am seriously concerned about the pending appeal by the complainants which seeks to to either reverse the court’s decision or to increase the amount of bail from P 60, 000 to P 200,000 for each of the accused workers.

I have also been informed of the allegations that the complainants had threaten to prosecute the court judge for granting the workers’ petition to post bail. Any threats of legal action against court judges in performance of their lawful duties and obligation are unacceptable. Not only would this constitute a threat against the judge who is hearing the case to decide on merit and without favor, it would also derail the interest of justice.

In this case, I am of the opinion that the Constitutional right of 18 workers to bail should be protected and upheld. Article 3, section 13 of the Bill of Rights of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, has clearly stipulated that “the right to bail shall not be impaired” and that “excessive bail shall not be required”. Only on cases where the ‘evidence of guilt is strong’ and that the probability of the accused of escaping from prosecution, that the right to bail may be denied–the elements not existing in this case.

Firstly, there had been questions to the admissibility of evidence against the workers who had been falsely charged with serious illegal detention. One piece of the evidence used by the complainants was photographs supposedly showing the accused padlocking the establishment’s gate. However, none of those in the picture resembles any of the workers. At the time the incident took place, the workers did not prevent any persons from entering and exiting the establishment premises, including their employers, thus the allegations that they had padlocked or detained persons is seriously questionable.

Also, under the Philippine Labor Code, for any offenses arising from labor disputes it is the Department of Labor (DoLE) who has the original jurisdiction over the case. They would form part of the arbitration proceedings by the DoLE’s quasi-judicial body. Therefore, the case should have not been tried in ordinary courts in the first place for lack of jurisdiction.

Therefore, I urge your intervention to ensure that the worker’s constitutional right to bail is protected and upheld. Also, the charges laid on the 18 workers should also be resolved without further delay in compliance to the Speedy Trial Act of 1998.

I also request you to afford adequate medical attention to one of the four remaining detainees, Andy S. Salarson, who remains in jail. Salarson, according to his family, had been suffering from suspected tuberculosis, the disease that killed two of his companions. Similar treatment and medical attention should also be afforded to the other remaining detainees to prevent needless deaths due to illness.

Yours sincerely,


1. Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Republic of the Philippines
Malacanang Palace
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Manila 1005
Fax: +63 2 736 1010
Tel: +63 2 735 6201 / 564 1451 to 80

2. Ms. Leila De Lima
Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., Commonwealth Avenue
U.P. Complex, Diliman
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2 929 0102
Tel: +63 2 928 5655 / 926 6188
E-mail: mtm_rodulfo@yahoo.com

3. Deputy Director General Jesus A. Verzosa
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP)
Camp General Rafael Crame
Quezon City
Fax: +63 2724 8763
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763
E-mail: ruth_cossid@yahoo.com

4. Ms. Agnes Devanadera
Department of Justice (DoJ)
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura
1004 Manila
Telefax: +63 2 521 1614
E-mail: raulgonzalez_doj@yahoo.com; soj@doj.gov.ph

5.  Mr. Marianito Roque
Department of Labor and Employment (Dole)
7/F DOLE Building, Intramuros
Manila NCR 1002
Fax: +63 2 527 3494 
Tel: +63 2 527 2131
E-mail: sec_art_brion@yahoo.com.ph; osec@dole.gov.ph

6. Ms. Ma. Teresa Cruz San Gabriel
Presiding Judge
Branch 80, Regional Trial Court
Morong, Rizal
Tel: +63 2 691 5535

Thank you.

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