Rights groups call for acquittal of trade union activist

Rights group Hustisya called for the acquittal of trade union activist Marklen Maojo Maga, who is set to face judgment on charges of illegal possession of firearms on June 3. 

In a picket protest held infront of the Department of Justice today, Hustisya chairperson Evangeline Hernandez said that the courts should see the injustice against Maga, from his arrest up to his detention for more than a year. 

Hustisya chairperson Evangeline Hernandez

”We plead to the courts to free Maga, and let him be reunited with his son. We wish that they put an end to this madness of planting evidence to enable the filing of trumped-up charges against activists and ordinary persons,” said Hernandez. 

Maga was arrested on the morning of February 22, 2018, while playing basketball in their neighborhood in San Mateo, Rizal. He just came back from sending his son to school that morning, when police arrested him and allegedly found a .45 caliber gun in his bag. They took a photo of the bag, marked it as evidence, but there was no photo of the gun. The firearm and ammunition allegedly in his possession were already in Camp Crame where he was first brought to and integorrated. 

“How are we supposed to believe that Maga is carrying a gun that morning? Playing basketball was his usual morning routine after sending his son to school. It is downright absurd for Maga to carry a gun to his son’s school, then in the community where he is a known resident,” said Hernandez. 

SELDA, organization of former political prisoners, called for the dismissal of trumped-up charges of murder against Maga, filed in Agusan del Norte, where he has never gone to.

“Maga is a trade union activist, an organizer of workers in Metro Manila and Central Luzon. In a made-up world by spin doctors and professional liars in the police, they maliciously included Maga’s name in a case thousands of kilometers away from Manila, in a dire attempt to press more charges against him and keep him in jail,” SELDA secretary general Sally Bacarra said.

Maga is currently detained at the Metro Manila District Jail in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan, Taguig City. Since then, Maga has only seen his 9-year old son through jail visits. 

“Maga should be freed for his son, who has to travel with his mother all the way from Rizal to Taguig City to see his father. His son’s only wish is our wish too, that his father be released from prison, so that he may send him to school again as classes begin next week,” said Hernandez.  

They reiterated the call to release the 532 political prisoners currently detained under the Duterte government. 

“The Duterte government, like other regimes, has employed the dirtiest tactics against activists, critics and ordinary citizens. Its armed forces and police use the law against the people, not to uphold ther rights but to suppress voices that cry out the injustice that beset our land,” Bacarra ended. ###

Reference: Evangeline Hernandez. Hustisya chairperson, 0946-0177211

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