PHILIPPINES: Daughter of detained political activist writes about delay in trial of her father on questionable charges


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAU-004-2013
ISSUES: Human rights defenders, Minorities, Threats and intimidation,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) wishes to share with you the testimony of the daughter of a political activist. The man is now in jail and his daughter relates as to how he was arrested, deliberately kept from his family and how the trial of his case is being dragged out. The delay in her father’s petition requesting for transfer of venue in the trial of his case has since deprived him opportunity to make his defense in court.

UPDATED INFORMATION: (Below is the narration of events written for the AHRC by Nikki Gamara)

(Nikki Gamara. Photo by Tudla Productions)

On March 6, we issued an appeal concerning a pattern of targeted attacks on human rights and political activists. One of these cases involves Renante Gamara, a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP); and his wife, Amelita, a board member of Defend Job Philippines, a local non-governmental organization.

For details, please read: AHRC-UAG-001-2013.

In a testimony written for the AHRC, Nikki Gamara explained the manner in which her father was arrested and questioned in absence of his legal counsel. His family struggled to look for his whereabouts after his arrest and his petition in court requesting the transfer of the trial of his case to another court had been dragging on.

The trial of Nikki’s father could not proceed because the Supreme Court (SC) have been unable to conclude the petition filed in April 27, 2012 requesting transfer of venue for the trial of the case from Regional Trial Court (RTC), in Mauban, Quezon to the Regional Trial Court (RTC), in Quezon City, Metro Manila.

The request for transfer of venue is based on the following grounds: first, safety of the detainee once he is transferred to another detention center; second, difficulty of his family and legal counsel to follow up his cases due to distance; third, the health condition of the detainee as he require medical attention for his swollen ankles and shoulders.

A narration of events written by Nikki Gamara:

Chronology of events: Renante Gamara’s arrest, detention and legal battle

April 3, 2012, about 1:00 pm

8-10 men in civilian clothes grabbed Renante Gamara and his companion, Santiago Balleta, by their backs as they approach their vehicle parked at the parking lot of Star Mall Las Pinas. The men slammed them against the back of their vehicle and immediately blindfolded and handcuffed the two. They were dragged to separate vehicles, Gamara figuring out he was dragged to the back of a pick-up, his face to the floor of the vehicle.

Gamara was taken to a building and later found out that he was inside a room in the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) National Capital Region Office in PNP National Headquarters, Camp Crame, Quezon City. An official of the CIDG NCR who identified himself as Coronel asked him if he knows the number of his lawyer. He asked for the number of Atty. Neri Colmenares for he is a known rights lawyer and a representative of the Bayan Muna Partylist, and possibly, his contact number might be available through government directory. Coronel dialed Colmenares’ number and let Gamara speak to him. He informed him that he is an activist, abducted and seeking to let rights’ group Karapatan know of his abduction.

Later, they showed him an amended warrant of arrest where his name (actually Reynante not Renante) was identified as an “a.k.a” of “Ka Mike”. The document stated that he is accused for a kidnapping with murder case among 37 others filed before Branch 64, Regional Trial Court, Mauban, Quezon.

He was interrogated by a man who identified himself as “Joey”, an agent of the Intelligence Service for the Armed Forces of the Philippines. He refused to answer questions insisting that he must first see their documents for his abduction and talk to his lawyer. He also showed him his Document of Identification (DI) identifying him as a National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace Consultant. He is supposed to be protected by the Joint Agreement for Safety and Immunity Guarantees but the agent confiscated the ID and said that he will refer it to the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process and continued on his interrogation asking tons of questions unrelated to the crime Gamara is accused of committing.

That night, he was brought to the Custodial Center, all of his belongings including personal effects such as watch, reading glasses and medicines were confiscated, and he was padlocked inside a detention cell in the Witness Protection Program Building. A detainee in the adjacent cell, with their cells open, inserted a bottle of water through a small opening at the door of his cell. Despite his complaints of difficulty in breathing, the policemen refused to open the door of his cell.

While Santiago Balleta was held in custody at the CIDG NCR Office, he was able to inform his family of his arrest. Rights group went to the office to demand to see Gamara but the authorities refused to their demand. That is when we were informed of his arrest. (Balleta was filed with “obstruction of justice, freed through bail and until now attending proceedings for the said case.)

April 4, 2012, 8:00 am

Accompanied by Atty. Montemayor from National Union of People’s Lawyer, Nicolette and Miguel, daughter and eldest son of Gamara went to see their father but waited for an hour because visitation starts at 9:00 am and because Gamara was brought to the PNP General Hospital to check up for his complaints in difficulty in breathing and feeling of hypertension attack.

When they were inside the visiting area of the custodial center, a detainee saw Gamara and identified him as a fellow activist back in the 80’s. He approached Gamara to confirm his identification and told him that he will tell his fellow “political prisoners” that Gamara was there. But the policemen immediately warned the detainee and told us that he is not allowed to talk to detainees from other buildings/compounds. His detention cell door was held in padlock for a few more days and he was prohibited to go to the Maximum Security Compound or talk for long minutes to other political detainees while others can freely move inside the center, leaving him isolated for weeks.

On the litigation process

After acquiring the legal documents (warrant of arrest, amended warrant of arrest and information), lawyers from Public Interest Law Center, rendering their pro-bono legal counsel services, filed a Petition to Transfer Venue of Court Proceedings before the Supreme Court, as agreed upon with Gamara’s family. This is primarily due to the possibility of transfer of his detention to the Provincial Jail of Quezon since the case was filed before the Mauban RTC and the inconvenience that it entails to him, to his family and the threat to the safety of all that will be involved.

When he was brought, alongside 20 uniformed policemen as escorts, to Mauban in May 25 for the arraignment (supposed to be, but Gamara, through his counsel, asked that it be postponed with pending resolution for the petition to transfer venue), the prosecution agreed to the postponement and the arraignment was rescheduled to, if petition still unresolved before, October 26 (the rescheduled arraignment was postponed indefinitely).

Since the filing of the petition on April 27, 2012, the Supreme Court has not yet released any resolution to it. This February, Gamara received a copy of an order from the Mauban RTC instructing the prosecution and defense to forward their comments regarding the endorsement of the case to Pasig City RTC dated December 27. They were given 5 days to reply. However, according to the legal counsel of Gamara, the Mauban RTC ordered them to comment on an endorsement to Quezon City RTC in August. After the 5-day reply deadline and none of the prosecution or defense contested the endorsement of the SC to the Quezon City RTC, it was supposed to proceed and be implemented in a few weeks or months time. But 4 months after, another endorsement, this time to Pasig City RTC, was issued by the RTC. Gamara’s family and counsel are worried that the process may not proceed smoothly and regularly and may take another 4 months or so before the SC issues its final resolution on where would his case be raffled to.

This delay of venue determination has stalled all immediate legal remedies that his counsel intend to make, such as motion to quash warrant of arrest, dismiss case and so on. This situation makes it also difficult for his counsel to request for court orders and have these requests monitored and granted (for example, his request to have a medical check-up for his swelled ankles and shoulders took almost half a year before it was granted and implemented; the same goes for the release of his confiscated belongings that are unrelated to the case he is being accused for).

Right now, Gamara’s family, friends, old fellows in the labor movement are working to campaign for his release in ways possible.


In this case, the name of Renante Gamara did not appear on the arrest order the court issued which was dated May 12, 2011. When he was arrested on April 3, 2012, the police justified his arrest based on amended arrest warrant dated March 23, 2012. In the amended arrest order, the accused named “Ka Mike” in the first arrest order, has now been amended to: “Ka Mike (Reynante Gamara/Mike Gamara @ Ka Mike,” now including his misspelled name on it.

The AHRC has already expressed serious concern on the routine practice of the public prosecutors of either easily amending or including names of the accused in arrest orders to target a person. Legally, this amendments and inclusions of new names should have been subject to stringent rules and requirements — example, proof that the person in an alias is exactly the same person in the amended complaint.

However, the prosecution’s practice has been so arbitrary putting names of the accused as “aliases” to deliberately leave open any person they could name. This practice has since been done deliberately, systematically and in a routine manner. This explains why many human rights and political activists, knowing that they had been charged, had no opportunity to challenge the charges before they are filed in court.

Please write letters to the authorities listed below asking for their adequate and immediate intervention to ensure that the petition for the transfer of the hearing of his case is resolve promptly.

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


Dear __________,

PHILIPPINES: Resolve detainee’s petition for transfer of venue of his trial promptly

Name of the detainee: Renante Gamara, he is the consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP)
Place of his detention: Gamara is presently detained at the headquarters of the Philippine National Police (NP), Quezon City
Status of his case: Gamara is arrested for charges of kidnapping with murder (Criminal Case Nos. 11-3248 and 113249) pending at the Regional Trial Court (RTC), 4th Judicial Branch, Mauban, Quezon City. Renante’s petition for transfer of the hearing of his case Quezon City on April 27, 2012 is still pending.

I am writing regarding the case of Renante Gamara, a consultant of the NDFP. He was arrested on April 3, 2012 for charges of kidnapping with murder. When he was arrested he was questioned in absence of a legal counsel. His family struggled to look for his whereabouts after his arrest, and his petition in court requesting the transfer of the trial of his case to another court had been dragging on.

Firstly, I am deeply concerned by the manner how Renante was arrested, deliberately kept from his family after his arrest and how the prosecution of his case is taking place. His arrest was based on an amended arrest order where a name “Reynante Gamara” not Renante, which is his real name, appeared as one of the accused. In the first arrest warrant, Renante’s name did not appear.

I am deeply concerned by the ongoing practice by the public prosecutors wherein the list of accused in criminal cases are amended, which often includes names of individuals who are not informed of the charges laid on them. This is very common in cases where human rights and political activist are involved.

Secondly, the delay in the conclusion of the Supreme Court on Renante’s petition to transfer the venue of the trial of his case to Quezon City aggravated the situation. I understand that his petition for transfer are based on the following grounds: first, safety of the detainee once he is transferred to another detention center; second, difficulty of his family and legal counsel to follow up his cases due to distance; third, health condition of the detainee as he require medical attention for his swollen ankles and shoulders.

Renante filed his petition for transfer in April 17, 2012, however the SC have been unable to resolve his petition. The failure on part of the SC to resolve his petition would also mean further delay in the trial of his case.

Therefore, I urged you to ensure that: first, allegations of the arbitrary inclusion of his name in the criminal offense be looked into; second, that the SC resolve his petition promptly so he would have an opportunity to defend himself in court once the trial commence. I am disappointed that despite the urgency of petition, as mentioned above, the SC has been unable to act on this.

I hope that you take action this matter without delay.


1. Jose Midas P. Marquez
Court Administrator
Office of the Court Administrator
Supreme Court of the Philippines
3rd floor, Old Supreme Court Building
Padre Faura, Manila 1000
Telefax: +63 2 523 2315

2. Ms. Leila de Lima 
Department of Justice (DOJ) 
DOJ Bldg., Padre Faura 
1004 Manila 
Fax: +63 2 521 1614 

3. Mr. Benigno Aquino III 
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

4. Ms. Loretta Ann Rosales 
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 

5. Director General Nicanor Bartolome 
Chief, Philippine National Police (PNP) 
Camp General Rafael Crame 
Quezon City 
Fax: +63 2724 8763 
Tel: +63 2 726 4361/4366/8763 

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Desk 
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) ( 

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Update
Document ID : AHRC-UAU-004-2013
Countries : Philippines,
Issues : Human rights defenders, Minorities, Threats and intimidation,