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CEBU, Philippines – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) filed a frustrated murder case against Bayan Muna Central Visayas coordinator John Ruiz and former Visayas Human Development Agency, Incorporated (VIHDA) executive director Jhonggie Rumol, the groups confirmed in a press conference on Monday, December 18.
Ruiz said that the cases were filed in Negros Occidental in October. The military accused them of being with the New People’s Army (NPA) when it had an armed encounter with the 79th Infantry Batallion (IB) on April 6.
The two activists initially received information on the case in the first week of December and have posted bail at the Cebu City Hall of Justice on Monday.
Based on the arrest warrant issued by Judge Reginald Fuentebella of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Negros Occidental on December 13, the bail amount was set at P72,000 for each of the accused.
Ruiz added that the court brought down the case from frustrated murder to frustrated homicide.
Both BAYAN and VIHDA condemned the allegations thrown at the two activists, labeling the charges as “attacks against human rights defenders and development workers.”
“While the masses need pro-poor and pro-people government policies and programs, the state answers nothing but state fascism: vilification, harassment, abduction, and killings,” BAYAN Central Visayas chairperson Jaime Paglinawan said.
“VIHDA strongly suggests to the government to prioritize addressing the worsening economic crisis rather than pursuing legitimate organizations aiming to help improve the situation,” VIHDA said in their statement.
Rappler tried contacting the 79th IB for a statement on the matter but has yet to receive any reply. – Rappler.com