Detained BJMP warden is released for humanitarian reasons

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Spokesperson, NDFP Southern Mindanao Chapter

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Southern Mindanao releases today Jose Mervin Coquilla, who is under the custody of the New People’s Army Compostela Valley-North Davao-South Agusan Subregional Command, as a unilateral exercise of political authority, humanitarianism, and to help propel for the immediate resumption of the Government of the Philippines (GPH)-NDFP peace negotiations.

Prior to his arrest on 23 December 2014 in Panabo City, complainants filed a case against him at the People’s Democratic Government for corrupt practices, and for planning, aiding, abetting and conspiring in the commission of ferreting drugs inside the jail, of tolerating the cruel treatment and violence among inmates, and of neglecting sick prisoners of the reactionary Provincial Rehabilitation Center of Compostela Valley in his capacity as its Provincial Jail Warden since 18 September 2000.

Coquilla was accused of practicing unreasonable policies for jail visits. Family of inmates are prohibited from conducting face-to-face interaction with their loved ones.

He allegedly tolerated rampant illegal drug trade inside the jail. Jail guards and visitors freely sneak in illegal drugs for inmates, as body searches for visitors are not being done.

Complainants from the jail also said that medical care for sick inmates is inadequate. While they are admitted in separate cells, sick inmates carrying contagious diseases or not are all placed in the same cells. Those with serious ailments are not immediately brought to the hospital. There are reported deaths as a result of the lack of medical treatment. Those who are lucky to be brought to the hospital have to contend with inadequate medicines.

A People’s Court constituted by the People’s Democratic Government ordered the arrest of Coquilla so that legal and judicial processes are applied and the above-mentioned allegations are substantiated. If evidence warrants, the process progresses to prosecution, trial and judgment. Upon his arrest, the People’s Democratic Government formed an investigating body to formally receive the complaints and conduct a preliminary investigation to determine the participation and culpability of respondent Coquilla. The body was tasked to determine whether there was prima facie evidence to establish Coquilla’s commission and commission with impunity of such criminal acts.

As a head of a state apparatus that is an armed security machinery of the reactionary government, Coquilla is being held liable for allegations of crimes that hurt citizens whose freedom of movement is already absent by virtue of their incarceration and those who are victims of the unjust reactionary Philippine judicial system that arbitrarily detained them.

The arrest, custody and investigation of Coquilla are all in line with the cause of revolutionary justice, governed by the laws of the People’s Democratic Government and in accordance with international rules of war.

Information have been obtained pointing to a specific violation of Coquilla and those under his command responsibility of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), specifically, Part III Respect for Human Rights, Article 2, Nos. 4,5,7,11 and 20, which provide the “right not to be subjected to campaigns of incitement to violence against one’s person,” “right to liberty, particularly against unwarranted and unjustified arrest and detention,”, “right not to be subjected to physical and mental torture and other inhuman, cruel or degrading treatment, detention and punishment,” “right to access to basic services and health care.”

Because he supervises a facility that houses political detainees, charges were also levelled against Coquilla for violating No. 6, Article 4, Part IV of CARHRIHL which provides that “All persons deprived f their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict shall be treated humanely, provided with adequate food and drinking water, and be afforded safeguards as regards to health and hygiene, and be confined in a secure place.”

The NDFP-SMR, however, suspended its judicial proceedings against Coquilla as a humanitarian act in response to the pleas of his family and representatives from the GPH and well-meaning individuals, and as a gesture of compassion and mercy — a message that is reverberating in the country with the recent visit of Pope Francis.

The suspension of revolutionary judicial process over respondent Coquilla is also a unilateral exercise of political authority of the NDFP, as an act of goodwill for the immediate resumption of peace negotiations between the GPH and the NDFP.

As such, the case of Coquilla is being archived.

The release of respondent Coquilla, however, does not preclude the revolutionary forces from subjecting him to future arrest and detention if the masses file new charges against him and if he is found to be unremorseful.

The NDFP-SMR has ordered the NPA Comval-North Davao-South Agusan Subregional Command to carry out the safe and orderly release of Coquilla to be witnessed by Third Party facilitators, peace advocates, and the media.

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