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Letter Calling for the Immediate Release of Maoj Maga and All Political Prisoners

This letter was originally sent to Malacañang via email by ICHRP British Columbia, in light of the decision by the Philippine Court of Appeals to reverse Maoj Maga’s conviction.

September 28, 2022

Sent via Electronic Mail:

Mr. President,

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – British Columbia (ICHRP-BC) welcomes the recent decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) to reverse the conviction of political prisoner, Marklen Maojo “Maoj” Maga, for charges of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. This latest development comes on the heels of other legal victories by activists who had been red-tagged and unjustly arrested.

In its decision made public on September 18, 2022, the appellate court said the search of Maga’s backpack inside the vehicle during his arrest on February 22, 2018 was unlawful and unreasonable.

The CA said that the prosecution witnesses were clear that Maga was arrested at the basketball court, while the search of his backpack took place after they had all boarded their private vehicle. Thus, the prosecution failed to prove Maga’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt.

KARAPATAN, an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, noted that out of the 801 political prisoners currently in detention in the Philippines, at least 361 or 45% are facing charges of illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and/or explosives.

ICHRP BC joins freedom loving Canadians and international human rights groups in reiterating that unionism is not a crime, and trade unionists like Maoj Maga are advocates who continue to raise workers’ legitimate demands despite increasingly hostile environment. Maga is a full-time labor organizer of Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU—May First Labor Movement) and founding member of the youth group, Anakbayan.  

Mr. President, we call on your administration to facilitate the immediate release of Maoj Maga and all political prisoners.

ICHRP BC demands the use of questionable search warrants and planting evidence against activists and dissidents should stop.

Copy furnished:

Dr. Clarita Carlos
National Security Adviser and Director General of the National Security Council
East Avenue corner V. Luna Road, Quezon City, Philippines

Mr. Jesus Crispin C. Remulla
Secretary, Department of Justice of the Philippines
Fax: +632 521-1614 / +632 85262618

Atty. Jacqueline de Guia
Executive Director, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines
Fax: +632 929 0102