Atty. Remigio Saladero, chief legal counsel for the KMU in the Philippines, will be released today by order of the Philippines Regional Trial Court in Calapan City. Atty. Saladero’s family and friends are on their way to Mindoro now to get him. Atty. Saladero had been held in jail along with six co-defendants, all community and labor organizers, since last October when the Philippine government charged him and dozens of other community and political organizers, labor leaders, and human rights advocates with murder alleging that they all ambushed a police patrol in March 2006.
Just two days ago, military intelligence units, along with local police, arrested another KMU labor organizer in Southern Tagalog, Leonardo Arceta, alleging that he was with Atty. Saladero and the six other defendants when the ambush took place. Mr. Arceta has complained of being tortured while in custody of the police. Many of the other named in the criminal complaint have been unable to return home to their families since they discovered their names listed on the complaint, fearing arrest and torture.
With Atty. Saladero’s release, it will be hard for the Philippine government prosecutors to sustain the charges against the other named in the criminal warrant. However, much will be determined by the judge’s order, which not yet available to the public. The language in the judge’s order will mean a lot in terms of ensuring that all those who were named in the complaint for political reasons, including Manny Asuncion, will be able to safely return to their families without fear of the military coming to get them.
Here are two blog posts I wrote about Atty. Saladero’s arrest last fall.