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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, August 17, 2012
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Produce Arles slay suspect
or face contempt, judge says

The lawyer of the National Bureau of Investigation was ordered yesterday to bring one of the suspects in the murder of Judge Henry Arles before the court on August 22, or face being cited for contempt.

Bacolod Regional Trial Court Branch 42 Judge Fernando Elumba ordered lawyer Ormil Go of the Solicitor General’s Office to present Eddie Fortunado, who is presently in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila, to the court.

The judge was acting on a petition for a Writ of Amparo filed by Fortunado’s mother, Tessa.

Fortunado, a member of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade of Barangay Tamplaon, Kabanklaan City, along with Ilog Mayor John Paul Alvarez, a municipal employee and four other RPA-ABB members, has been charged before the Department of Justice for the murder of Arles in Ilog town on April 24.

He is also facing a separate complaint for illegal possession of a firearm before the Bacolod Prosecutor’s Office.

In her petition his mother asked the court to order NBI director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas, NBI Bacolod chief Ferdinand Lavin and agents Syrus Aluzan and Modesto Orestes Cajita to produce her son, and to explain why he is being deprived of his liberty, and tortured.

Bacolod NBI chief Ferdinand Lavin, in an interview, said Fortunado voluntarily went with the NBI agents after he learned that two of his RPA-ABB colleagues, also tagged in the murder of Arles, were already in the custody of the agency, and denied that he has been tortured.

“We held him on the basis of his request for protective custody, which he made in the presence of a lawyer provided for him,” Lavin said.

Ormil, who told the judge he came unprepared as the case had just been endorsed to him only on Wednesday, questioned how the Writ of Amparo would apply to Fortunado when it is intended for extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

In the case of Fortunado, it was not he who died, but Arles, and he has not disappeared because his whereabouts is known, he is with the NBI in Manila, Ormil said.

Fortunado voluntarily surrendered for fear of his life, he added.

Romeo Subaldo, lawyer of Mrs. Fortunado, in return insisted that Fortunado was arrested and pointed out that the Writ of Amparo is a remedy available to any person whose right to life, liberty and security is violated, or threatened with violation by an unlawful act or omission of a public official or employee, or of a private individual or entity.

There is no case yet that has been filed against Fortunado in court so there is no legal reason for the NBI to detain him, Subaldo said.

Elumba in an order dated Aug. 8, had ordered the NBI officials who are respondents in the case to bring Fortunado before the court. They were also ordered to present affidavits to show that they did not violate or threaten with violation the right to life, liberty and security of Fortunado through an act of omission.

Lavin, in an interview after the hearing, said they would consult with higher management of the NBI and there should no be reason for them not to comply with the order of the court.

“We cannot defy the order of the court,” he added.

Tessa Fortunado said her son is innocent of the charge hurled against him and she is happy the judge has ordered that he be brought back to Negros.

“I want him to come back here alive so he can tell us what happened to him,” she said.

She said she was not aware of any threat against the life of her son as alleged by the NBI.*CPG

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