Free Berlin Movement and Timeline

Free Berlin Movement and Timeline

Free Berlin Movement and Timeline

Case Update and Time-line of the legal process:

The UCCP appeal for support of the release of Pastor Berlin Guerrero from the Cavite Provincial Jail continues.  Pastor Berlin has been detained for more than one year on a charge of murder.  On June 10, 2008, the Supreme Court remanded the UCCP motion for Pastor Berlin’s immediate release to the Court of Appeals on the grounds that the Supreme Court is not the “trier of facts.”  Their lawyers have contended the case should be quashed (or thrown out without even going to trial) as there is not probable cause/sufficient evidence for the case to be filed in the first place. The UCCP continues their wait for the action of the court. 

May 27, 2007 
Pastor Berlin, his wife and children were on a tricycle departing from the UCCP Malaban local church in Binan, Laguna.  The tricycle was cut off by an unmarked van.  Men with guns surrounded the family.  As they pulled Pastor Berlin into the van, the family yelled for them to show a warrant.  The bag of Mylene (Berlin’s wife) was also grabbed as it contained a camera with a picture of an alleged ‘intelligence agent’ who had attended the church for a few weeks.

Pastor Berlin was interrogated and tortured at an unknown location.  The questions hurled at him centered on accusations that Berlin was an officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines in Cavite Province.  They also forced him to give the password to his email account and interrogated him on all people with whom he worked within the UCCP, ecumenical circles, and the people’s movement. They tortured him psychologically and physically.  Several times Pastor Berlin passed out from suffocation.  He thought he would be killed.

May 28, 2007 
After around 18 hours disappeared, Pastor Berlin was brought to Philippine National Police Camp Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite.  Only after his captors had turned him over to the police was he instructed to remove his blindfold and was eventually allowed to call his family to say that he was alive.  When Atty. Emilio Capulong and a UCCP team arrived on the scene in the early evening, the PNP gave fax copies of two warrants of arrest.  One warrant executed in 1992 was for a charge of murder.  The second executed in 1988 was for a charge of inciting to sedition; the second warrant had been served to Pastor Berlin in 1992 and he was released after posting bail.  No file has been located on the charge of inciting to sedition. 

May 29, 2007 
The Commission on Human Rights and the Health Action for Human Rights conducted medical evaluations of Pastor Berlin.  They documented his contusions, abrasions, and lacerations.  Both reports concluded the Pastor Berlin has been subjected to ill-treatment and torture.

May 31, 2007 
UCCP General Secretary Bishop Eliezer M. Pascua held a dialogue with PNP Chief General Oscar Calderon, where General Calderon confirmed that he had ascertained the unit of the Naval Intelligence Security Forces that took Berlin into custody.  He agreed to ask the commanding officer to identify the suspects of the torture of Pastor Berlin.

June 14, 2007 
Protestant Lawyers’ League of the Philippines made an Urgent Motion for the Release of the Accused with a Complimentary Prayer to Quash the Warrant of Arrest and to dismiss the Information at the Regional Trial Court, Branch 19, Bacoor, Cavite on the charge of murder.

August 2, 2007 
Presiding Judge Matias M. Garcia II denied the motion (basically contending that a lack of probable cause is not basis for to quash the Information).

August 24, 2007 
Senator Jovito R. Salonga of Kilosbayan joined as counsel for Pastor Berlin and filed at the Supreme Court a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition, and Mandamus under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court for grave abuse of discretion of Judge Matias M. Garcia.  This petition sought to nullify the denial of the motion on August 2, 2007, to prohibit from proceeding any further with the case at the Regional Trial Court, to order the dismissal of the Information for murder against Pastor Berlin Guerrero, and his immediate release from detention.

September 4, 2007 
The Supreme Court ordered a Comment from Judge Matias M. Garcia II and the Solicitor General within 10 days of their receipt of the Supreme Court order.

October 3, 2007 
Judge Matias M. Garcia II filed his Comment basically repeating that lack of probable cause is not a basis for Quashal of the Information.

September 28, 2007 
Solicitor General filed motion for a thirty (30) day extension to file Comment. 

October 30, 2007 
Solicitor General filed motion of another thirty (30) day extensions to file Comment.

November 29, 2007   
Solicitor General filed motion for a third extension to file Comment.

December 10, 2007 
Solicitor General files comment (more than three months after the Supreme Court Order for Comment).

January 15, 2008 
Supreme Court requires the attorneys of Pastor Berlin to file Reply to the Comment of the Solicitor General.

March 17, 2008 
Reply filed by attorneys of Pastor Berlin re-stating that there is lack of probable cause in the case of murder.  They also filed an Urgent Motion for Resolution of the Petition.

June 10, 2008 
Supreme Court Remands case to Court of Appeals on the basis that the Supreme Court is not the “trier of facts.”

July 25, 2008 
Hon. Romeo Barza, 12th Division, Court of Appeals is assigned the case of Pastor Berlin Guerrero

We await notification from the Court of Appeals on their next action.  We pray that the case will not be allowed to be delayed for months and months; we anticipate that a hearing will be called by the Court of Appeals to determine the merit and facts of the case.