“While we have to contend with this reality, it is so hard to accept. While we comprehend the rotten system from which these illegal arrests are being made, the imprisonment of these good people, inncocent of any crime they are being accused of is just beyond logic and reason.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Progressive groups condemned a local court’s decision declaring labor activist Maoj Maga guilty of possession of firearms.
In a decision released May 16, Judge Josephine Zarate-Fernandez of the Regional Trial Court Branch 76 convicted Maga of illegal possession of firearms and sentenced him imprisonment for a period of eight years and one day as minimum to 14 years and eight months as maximum.
Maga was arrested on February 22, 2018 while playing basketball in his neighborhood. Human rights alliance Karapatan said the arresting team planted evidence against Maga. Before the arrest, Maga just sent his then eight-year-old son to school. He is also facing fabricated murder charges in Agusan del Norte where he has never been to.
Maga is currently detained at the Metro Manila District Jail 4 in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City, and is set to be transferred to the New Bilibid Prison following the court’s decision.
In a Facebook post, Maga’s wife Eleanor de Guzman dubbed the court’s decision as “pure injustice.”
Upon learning the verdict, Maga’s ten-year-old son Li Boy cried, hugged his mother and blurted out, “Ang gago ng judge na ‘yan!” (That judge is an idiot!)
“While we have to contend with this reality, it is so hard to accept. While we comprehend the rotten system from which these illegal arrests are being made, the imprisonment of these good people, inncocent of any crime they are being accused of is just beyond logic and reason,” De Guzman said.
There are 532 political prisoners in the country, according to Karapatan.
In a statement, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said the “illegal arrest, detention, and conviction of Maoj Maga shows an orchestrated operation to silence dissenters.”
Maga is a full-time labor organizer of Kilusang Mayo Uno. He was one of the founding members of youth group Anakbayan.
“Maoj’s unjust and condemnable conviction is an impetus for human rights advocates, trade unionists and activists to continue pushing back against a climate of political persecution and reprisal. We reiterate that unionism is not a crime, and trade unionists like Maoj are advocates who continue to raise workers’ legitimate demands despite an increasingly hostile environment, Palabay said.