Philippines: Charges against Remigio Saladero Jr.

Re: Charges against Remigio Saladero Jr.

To: Ms. Josephine Carranza-Olivar, Provincial Prosecutor

From: Gail Davidson, Constance Marlatt, Jessica Fletcher

Date: 2010-05-06

LRWC has been closely monitoring the case of Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr., a lawyer in the Philippines. Since 2006 Mr. Saladero has been targeted with apparently malicious prosecutions, the most recent of which are the present charges before you involving the murder of police and para-military personnel on the island of Mindoro on March 3, 2006. As you are no doubt aware, charges against Mr. Saladero for arson in Batangas and murder in Rizal have both been dismissed for lack of evidence.

We understand that the current charges were quashed on technical grounds on February 5, 2009 and have now been re-laid in the Regional Trial Court of Oriental Mindoro. We also understand that the charges were revived without the required preliminary investigation and we have seen no evidence supporting these charges.

Mr. Saladero is an internationally respected lawyer. In addition to being a prominent human rights lawyer, he was a professor at the Lyceum of the Philippines University and Dominican College and is now a columnist for Pinoy Weekly. He is a member of the Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center (PLACE), which handles hundreds of cases involving labour and human rights issues. We are advised that the PLACE office and staff have been subjected to surveillance and harassment from unidentified men believed to be military agents.

LRWC shares the opinion expressed by other human rights organizations that the charges against Mr. Saladero are unfounded and are intended to punish him for his able representation of cases involving labour and human rights violations, to prevent him from continuing his work, and to discourage others from doing this kind of work.

The Philippine Government has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (23 January 1987) which guarantees freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention and access to legal representation that is timely and confidential. If indeed the charges against Mr. Saladero are baseless, then they violate these provisions and the provisions of a number of other United Nations human rights instruments binding on the government of the Philippines including the: Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.

We remind you that the Philippines is a signatory to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL). The CAHRIHL was a landmark agreement binding your government to respect and enforce international human rights standards, which includes the protection of those representing clients pursuing investigations of or remedies for human rights violations.

LRWC calls on your office to ensure that:

1) Mr. Saladero is given the full protection of all international human rights standards relevant to the treatment of lawyers and to people accused or charged with criminal offences;
2) the criminal proceedings against him are stayed unless and until there is a proper basis of verifiable evidence facts implicating him in criminal activity; and
3) Mr. Saladero is assigned effective protective measures adequate to ensure his professional and personal safety.

It is critical that LRWC receive a response outlining the actions being taken by your office to remedy violations against Mr. Remigio Saladero Jr and to prevent any further violations.