June 17, 2024

A Tagum City court in Davao del Norte has dismissed the murder case filed against Cordilleran activist Windel Bolinget and five others for lack of probable cause over the killing of an indigenous people’s leader in 2018. 
This, after the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for the Regional Trial Court Branch 30 earlier recommended for the court to drop the names of Bolinget, Albert Mandin, Lutgardo Jurcales Jr., Jackie Valencia, Agnes Mesina, and Reynaldo Gameng from the case.
Bolinget, chair of Cordillera Peoples Alliance, and 10 other individuals were accused of killing Garito Tiklonay Malibato on March 22, 2018 in Gupitan, Kapalong, Davao del Norte. Malibato was a member of the Karadyawan IP group in Davao del Norte.
In his defense, Bolinget said he never set foot in the place of the incident.
Bolinget and the five other accused sought for a reinvestigation and wanted their names to be dropped from the murder charge.
Prosecution Attorney James Noel Morente, in the reinvestigation report dated May 24, said the statements of the accused are backed by evidence.
Like Bolinget, the other cleared accused are also activists.
Jurcales is an officer of Bayan national office while Gameng is a peasant leader from Cagayan.
Mesina is with Makabayan while Valencia is with Karapatan. Mandin, on the other hand, is a Davao-based businessman.
“I gladly welcome the court dismissal of the trumped-up murder case that was filed against me by the Tagum City Police in Davao del Norte. This is proof of the fact that cases filed by the police and this government against activists and civilians are merely fabricated. As peace-loving citizens and human rights advocates, it is our duty to expose and stop these laboratories of trumped-up cases and to end impunity,” Bolinget said in a statement. – Ofelia C. Empian