Tag Archives: Oplan Bantay Laya

US lawyers tell BSA: “Free Morong 43”

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, http://www.allvoices.com MANILA, Philippines-

American lawyers belonging to the National Lawyers Guild on Saturday added their voice to the growing demand of the international human rights and social justice community to immediately and unconditionally release the 43 health workers illegally arrested and detained by the Philippine military last Feb.6 this year in Morong, a municipality east of Metro Manila.

In a resolution approved during the NLG assembly in New Orleans, the American lawyers group put to task President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to free the detained health workers known as Morong 43.

The resolution, a copy of which was emailed to http://www.allvoices.com was dispatched to Malacanang, barely a day after Department of Justice (DoJ) Secretary Leila de Lima said the recommendation on the case will be forwarded to Malacanang anytime next week. On February 6, 2010 a force of 300 Philippine police and military illegally raided and abducted 43 community health workers including doctors and nurses who were conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines.

“These health workers and doctors administer health services to poor communities, and were participating in a week long First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD),” the NLG said in a resolution approved by its members during the assembly at New Orleans recently.

The NLG added that “these health workers were being trained to go to rural areas where the government does not provide medical services and who are most vulnerable during devastating typhoons which have been hitting the Philippines and devastating many rural communities.

“But, because people in many of these rural country side areas are considered enemies of the state, the government as part of its “counterinsurgency plan” targets people such as these health workers claiming they are in fact part of the insurgent movement in the Philippines and if the work is of a progressive nature they are assumed to be members of the New People’s Army,” the NLG resolution added. According to NLG, the training took place at a conference center owned by a renowned Doctor in the Philippines.

The workers were rounded up and taken to the central conference room while the military conducted an illegal search of the cabins and grounds, and claimed to have found a gun and some explosive materials. “The workers deny any connection to such materials and believe that the evidence was planted. Their personal belongings, as well the training m materials used, were all confiscated by the military,” it said.

The NLG said the lawyers for the workers immediately filed a petition for habeas corpus, claiming the search warrant was defective and the arrest illegal. “Marcos era law indicates that if those arrested are charged within 36 hours the illegality of the search and arrest cannot be attacked in a habeas petition. . In this case the charges, of possession of explosives, a non bailable offense, were not filed until 5 days later,” it said. The NLG also took note of the Supreme Court action on the Morong 43 case where the habeas was initially filed referred the case back to the court of appeal.

The court of appeal at first split 2-1 in favor of granting the habeas, but the government then added two more judges to the appeals panel making resulting in a 3-2 denial of the habeas.The NLG said it was shocked to learned that the 43 health workers were held in military camps until May 1, 2010. For days they were deprived the right to counsel during interrogation and there are many reports of sleep deprivation, beatings, electrical shock and the like. “Although they were transferred to jails near Manila in May their cases are in limbo.

They cannot be arraigned and tried while the habeas is pending because under Philippine law, if they are arraigned they lose the right to challenge the illegality of the search and the arrests through a habeas and a potential trial of all 43 would take years,” it said. On September 15, 2010 members of the IADL bureau met with the new Secretary de Lima, and urged her to conduct a review of these cases.

De Lima according to IADL lawyers agreed before her meeting with the IADL bureau to review these cases, and render an opinion on whether the cases should go forward. The IADL at its bureau meeting in Manila on September 16-17, 2010 decided to launch a world wide campaign to continue the pressure on the government to rescind the charges against these health workers and in particular to ensure that the Justice Secretary will act quickly to review the charges and withdraw them.

IADL is asking that National Affiliates such the NLG join in this effort.Officials and members of the NLG said they had decided to send a letter to the Justice Secretary to express the lawyers’ concern for the rights of these health workers, and requesting her to review and rescind the charges.

The NLG is also planning to send a delegation and meet the Philippine Ambassador in the United States to talk the case and launch a global campaign to pressure President Aquino and the military to free the 43 health workers. Meanwhile, the Philippine foreign affairs department announced President Aquino will be in Hanoi, Vietnam on October 28-30 to talk on human rights in East Asia and the Pacific.

The East Asia summit will be attended by members of Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN), Russia and the US, China, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, India, South Korea and Australia. The Manila foreign affairs department said the President is expected to call for vigilance over Myanmar’s first democratic elections which has been ruled by military dictatorship over the last thirty years.

But critics of Aquino argued the 50-year old president has no political and moral ascendancy to talk about protection of human rights in the East Asia conference.

Rural based groups such as the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), the biggest peasant group in the country and staunch ally Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) in a joint statement said Aquino is bound to emulate and surpass the brutal human rights records of previous President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.KMP and Pamalakaya said in the first 100 days in office of President Aquino, the AFP backed death squad had already claimed 16 lives of political activists in the country, about 11 to 12 of them are farmers affiliated with chapters of KMP all over the country.

The government under the extended counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL) continues to file fabricated charges against leaders of activist rural organizations in the country.

Recently, a leader of Pamalakaya in Negros, Western Philippines was charged with arson and other criminal charges in connection with the Oct.5 attack at Victorias Milling Corporation compound where a milling equipment amounting to P 600,000 was burned by the Maoist guerillas operating in the hinterlands of Negros Island.

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New AFP chief asked: Who’s behind smear campaign against Left candidates?

By Viva Regala-Alonzo and Billy Javier Reyes

MANILA, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) asked on Thursday newly installed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit the reason why despite his order for government troops not to obey unlawful orders from their most senior officers, officers and members of the armed forces are still engage in partisan politics and electioneering against militant party list groups and progressive candidates running in the May 2010 elections.

“If the nationwide hate and vilification campaign against militant party list groups and progressive candidates was not ordered by the AFP chief, then someone that is higher and powerful than The Emperor could be behind this electoral foul play orchestrated by the military”, Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said in a press statement.

Hicap’s group is supporting the party list of Anakpawis party list and the senatorial bids of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza. The Pamalakaya leader had earlier asked members of the international community observing the conduct of the May 2010 polls to monitor the involvement of the AFP in partisan politics and electioneering which are directed against activist party list groups and militant candidates.

“We strongly ask Gen. Bangit to set the record straight. Who is behind the smear campaign against progressive party lists and candidates? It is not only unlawful but grossly unconstitutional for AFP officers and state security forces to campaign against progressive party lists and candidates,” Hicap added.

In a speech to a group of marines at Camp Teodulo Bautista in Jolo, Sulu on Wednesday, the newly appointed AFP chief said the soldiers are not bound to obey unlawful orders, stressing that the military are not politicians and therefore should stay out of politics and follow only lawful orders from their superiors.

Leaders and members of Pamalakaya in Sorsogon said the military in the province are conducting house-to-house campaign in the province calling on all voters not to vote for militant party lists like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan Party and Act Teachers party list. The party lists formed Makabayan coalition party that includes Katribu party list, a new party list representing indigenous people and national minority groups in the country.

On Feb.23, Army Major Arnal Manjares hurt one of the campaigners of Makabayan during a house-to-house sortie, while conducting house-to-house campaign for progressive party lists and senatorial candidates Ocampo and Maza.

Based on the report reaching the headquarters of Bayan Muna in Quezon City, Manjares slapped the face of the volunteer and threatened the victim and his companions that they would be killed and harmed if they come back again and campaign for leftwing party lists and candidates in the area.

Pamalakaya said in the last May 2007 elections, cases of partisan politics specifically against Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela party lists were also documented Castilla Sorsogon, San Luis, Isabela, Nasugbu, Tanauan and Taysan in Batangas, Dasmarinas, Cavite, Cordon, and Cauayan, and San Luis Roxas, Isabela, Tuburan, Iloilo, Tubod, Lanao Del Norte, Palimbang Sultan Kudarat, Baggao, Cagayan, Burgos, Ilocos Norte, Kolambugan and Tubod Lanao del Norte, Roxas, Mindoro Oriental, Masbate, Guimba, Nueva Ecija, New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

There were also documented cases of military partisan politics against progressive party lists in Gumaca, Lucena, Sariaya, Candelaria, Lucena, Pagbilao, Gen. Luna and Macalelon, all in Quezon province, Alangalang and Tacloban in Leyte, North Cotabato, Marikina City, Makati City, any parts of Camarines Norte, Sa. Rosa, Laguna, Lavenzares, North Samar, Abuyog, Cagayan Valley, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Marawi City, many polling places in Lanao del Sur and many canvassing areas in Isabela.

Pamalakaya said the forms of military and police involvement include abductions and salvaging of progressive party list leaders and poll watchers, Illegal presence inside canvass areas or roaming around polling places and canvass areas, harassment of voters and forcing them not to vote militant party lists and instead vote for Palace backed party lists like Bantay of Rep. Jovito Palparan, transporting of ballot boxes in canvass areas, banning militant party list poll watchers inside the canvass areas and selecting only those they want to allow to enter, acting as bodyguards of candidates.

Other incidence cited by the militant group to prove military involvement in the 2007 polls included the presence of APC and 6×6 trucks near polling places and canvass areas, police counting the votes in precinct, the shooting and wounding of a Bayan Muna leader, the burning of school rooms, the Illegal arrest of poll watchers and the threatening Comelec official.

Pamalakaya had appealed to members of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to also monitor and entertain reports and cases against AFP officials and rank-and-file personnel accused of engaging in partisan politics and electioneering.

The group had asked Jamie Metzl of NDI, Thomas Barry, deputy regional director of NDI for Asia, Sam Gejdenson, former member of US Congress, Nora Owen, former justice minister of Ireland and Sue Wood, former president of the New Zealand National Party to put premium on documented reports that the military are campaigning for pro-administration bets and on the other hand are campaigning against certain candidates and party lists highly critical of the Arroyo administration.

“The pro-GMA clique in the AFP is in command of all these dirty electoral campaign against progressive candidates and party lists. It is blatantly and brazenly violating provisions of the 1987 Constitution that illegalize any kind or form of military partisan politics and electioneering. We appeal to the members of the international community to give proper attention to this militarist agenda of the pro-Arroyo faction in the AFP,” the group said.

Pamalakaya also asked members of the Western electoral watchdog to remain until June 30 to complete their observation and make an objective preliminary assessment of the May 2010 elections. The militant group said the March 12 to March 17 schedule of NDI electoral observers was short and will not give them even a comprehensive overview on how the Arroyo government and Comelec commence the 2010 elections under its stewardship.

The militant group had pressed Comelec chairman Jose Melo to invoke the constitutional provision banning all military officials and government troops from exercising partisan politics in lieu of reports that that some members of the AFP are engaged in campaigning against Makabayan senatorial candidates—Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza and activist party lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela and Anakpawis.

‘The commissioners of Comelec headed by Chairman Melo should impose an iron hand policy against officials and members of the AFP engaged in partisan politics. The military is violating the 1987 Constitution pertaining to partisan politics and this political-military adventure sanctioned by the ruling party in Malacanang must be put to an end,” the group said. #

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Air Force accused of harassing clients of arrested 43 health workers

By Bb. Joyce Cabral and Sarsi Pimentel

Manila, Philippines-The militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) accused on Saturday intelligence elements identified with the Philippine Air Force (PAF) based in Batangas of harassing clients of 43 health doctors and health workers arrested by the military in Morong, Rizal four weeks ago.

Quoting a report filed by its regional chapter Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan (Pamalakaya-TK) and staunch ally the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said the intelligence unit of PAF were trying to implicate Kasama-TK chairperson Guillermo Bautista and Pamalakaya-TK Southern Tagalog secretary general Isabelo Alicaya to the so-called Morong 43.

“According to the report, the air force intelligence group branded Bautista and Alicaya as comrades and members of New People’s Army in Batangas and they name dropped one of the arrested health workers as source of information,” said Hicap.

The Pamalakaya leader said Bautista and Alicaya are indigent clients of doctors and health workers arrested by the Philippine Army about a month ago while conducting a health seminar inside a resort in Morong, Rizal. “They are not NPAs. They are regular clients of the arrested 43 health workers, nothing more, nothing less,” stressed Hicap.

In the same report, the regional offices of Kasama-TK and Pamalakaya-TK said on Feb.21, two PAF men escorted by a local village councilor Aquilino Limeta along with Oscar Derain and an unidentified male, believed to be working with intelligence unit of PAF went to Barangay Calayo, Nasugbu and subjected Bautista’s wife about her husband’s whereabouts.

The report also said the three men persistently asked the peasant leader’s location. When his wife refused to divulge Bautista’s whereabouts, Derain bluntly declared that he is the “Supremo” of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Batangas. The intelligence officer claimed that the information directly came from the confession of the health workers who belonged to the so-called “Morong 43”.

Derain visited the house of village councilor Roniel Asahan the next day and declared the same statement to Asahan’s mother. On a separate incident, Mandy Limeta, a resident of the village was asked “what was he up to” and was accused of being a “comrade of the 43” by Derain.

“This long running criminal monster known as PAF is again on the loose to attack the indigent clients and poor people’s communities serviced for free by the 43 health workers the military had illegally arrested and detained and perennially tortured since day 1 of the political and military kidnapping of these 43 noble people,” said Pamalakaya.

The militant group said the Commission on Human Rights should also investigate the PAF in Batangas for sowing state terror and unbridled violations of human rights of poor farmers and fisherfolk who are all-season clients of 43 health workers. “The CHR should also look dispatch a probe team to undertake an investigation about this broad daylight terror by the PAF,” added Pamalakaya.

Meanwhile, the head of the European Union delegation to the Philippines assured the group that is following the case of 43 arrested doctors and health workers attentively and closely to make sure the human rights of detainees are fully respected in accordance with the law.

EU ambassador to the Philippines Alistair Macdonald in a letter dated March 2, 2010 and addressed to Pamalakaya leaders Hicap and Salvador France said few days after the arrest of 43 health workers in Morong, Rizal, the EU Commission to the Philippines immediately raised human rights issue to CHR chair Leila de Lima.

MacDonald’s letter was in response to the February 13 letter of appeal by Pamalakaya sent on February 13 urging EU to withdraw the P 270 million human rights grant to the Philippine government with respect to combating extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the country.

But the head of the EU delegation clarified that the EU-Philippine Justice Support Programme (EPJUST) was not a financial grant to the Philippine government but a technical assistance program, providing expert advice and training with a view to assisting Philippine society including civil society groups and the CHR and address the long standing scourge of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances. MacDonald said the funding which covers the costs of the technical assistance is managed by the EU Delegation in Manila.

“I do believe that this programme has very important contribution to make, in helping all stakeholders in the Philippines, including civil society and the CHR to bring an end to this grave problem,” the EU delegation chief said.

Pamalakaya said the EU delegation at least recognized that the issue of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance of political activists are major human rights concerns in the country.

In its letter to MacDonald dated February 13, Pamalakaya said, “Honorable MacDonald, late last year the European Union granted the Philippine government a total of P 270 million in total aid to improve its human rights record and make progress in the campaign to end the political culture of state repression prevailing under the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But the noble purpose of the grant courtesy of European taxpaying public is blatantly violated by the Manila government and the Philippine military with the fresh wave of attacks against political activists, human rights defenders and people centered advocacy groups”.

The group added: “Sir, the unlawful and brutal arrest and detention and torture of 43 doctors and medical volunteers who conducted a health training seminar last week aimed at improving their free services to indigent and poor Filipinos by state security forces is enough ground for EU to suspend if not withdraw the human rights aid given to the Philippine government. The situation merits the immediate and unconditional suspension if not total withdrawal of the P 270 million human rights aid to the Arroyo government.”

Pamalakaya noted that despite a Supreme Court order compelling the Philippine Army to produce and present the 43 arrested doctors and health personnel, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) refused to yield the live bodies of the arrested doctors and health workers. This is not only a direct of contempt, but a complete disregard of justice system in the country; with that chilling message that one is above the military as if a de facto military junta exists over and above the Supreme Court and the justice system in general.

“The tales of horror and stories of extreme state terror and brutality as collectively and individually recalled by doctors and medical personnel are sufficient enough to convince the European Union not only to recall the P 270 million human rights aid to Manila, but also to censure or reprimand the Philippine government for reneging its promise to make the country a better place for human rights advocacy,” the group said.

Pamalakaya told the EU delegation chief the 300 Army and their superiors who ordered the illegal arrest and detention and serious infliction of mental and physical pain to 43 health workers are ruthless, insane and blood hungry people, and awarding this republic of torturers and human rights violators millions of pesos worth of grant is like endorsing their passion for all-out violations of human rights and civil liberties.

The group asserted the Philippine government did not use the EU money to improve and defend human rights. On the contrary it spent the money to continue its perpetual violation of guaranteed constitutional rights and civil liberties with impunity. “The EU taxpayers’ money is spent by the national security gangland for the legal offensive of Malacanang against political activists and members of opposition groups exposing and opposing the crimes of the de facto military junta in Malacanang”, said Pamalakaya. #

Police conducting checkpoint in broad daylight

Police still conduct checkpoint even in broad daylight as the PNP intensify campaign against illegal carrying of firearms


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Health NGO to AFP: Educational attainment not a hindrance to learn health skills

By the Council for Health and Development

Health groups today slammed the military’s malicious statement regarding some of the health worker-trainees’ capacity to learn health skills with regard to their educational attainment. Lt. Col. Noel Detoyato, spokesperson of the Armed Forces’ 2nd Infantry Division said in an interview that the trainees’ profiles revealed that some of them reached only elementary and high school levels while only a very few were college levels and graduates. Thus, why give them health training?

“For 37 years, community-based health program practitioners have been training volunteers who would like to become Community Health Workers (CHWs) regardless of their educational attainment. We do not discriminate against a person’s educational background as long as he or she has the heart to serve other people in the villages. In fact, we have CHWs who are illiterate but are efficient and respected healers in their communities,” Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, Council for Health and Development’s Executive Director said.

In a country where 7 out of 10 Filipinos die without ever seeing a doctor and where public health services lack or are inaccessible, Dr. Jara said that it is CHD’s and COMMED’s mandate to bring health into the people’s hands.

“This means, our health professionals and health workers go out of their way to reach underserved communities and organize health committees and train Community Health Workers. That way, the people themselves can prevent and cure common illnesses and practice first-aid even with the absence of government services in their communities,” Dr. Jara explained.

She added that health skills should not be an exclusive property of a few who can afford to buy it — it should be learned by as many people as possible as long as they have the passion to use that knowledge to serve their fellowmen especially the poor and the oppressed.

Tuition fee in Metro Manila medical schools ranges from P55,000 to P85,000 per semester.

“It is a shame that the AFP discriminates the capacity of our people to learn health skills just because they only reached elementary or high school levels. The AFP should be the ones ashamed of themselves for persecuting health workers that genuinely serve the people. If the Armed Forces is questioning and suspicious as to why we train these people without high educational attainment, the answer is there is not enough health workers and health services in the country and the blame is on the government’s incapacity and skewed priorities,” Dr. Jara ended.##

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6 groups grilled Defense chief on torture of Morong 43

By Chocolate Moose Fernandez and Bb. Joyce Cabral

As the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) today sets court appearance of 43 doctors and health workers before the Court of Appeals for their writ of habeas corpus hearing, six rural based groups grilled took turns in grilling Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzalez, accusing that the latter as the mastermind, if not, one of the key security officials who gave the order to abduct and torture the 43 doctors and health workers.

In a joint statement, Danilo Ramos, secretary general of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), John Milton Lozande of Unyon ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Cherry Clemente of Anakpawis party list, Lito Bais, acting president of United Luisita Workers Union (ULWU), Zen Soriano of Amihan peasant women federation and Fernando Hicap, chair of the left-leaning fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) said Gonzalez is the criminal mindset behind the political kidnapping, illegal arrest and detention, and day-to-day infliction of mental and physical torture on 43 medical personnel who were arrested during a raid in a resort in Morong, Rizal while conducting health seminar last week.

“The horrible tales as narrated by the victims themselves reflect the militarist mindset of the Arroyo government, the pro-Arroyo generals in the AFP and Sec. Gonzalez—the undisclosed author of counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and Oplan Bantay Laya 2,” the six militant leaders said in a statement.

“Bert Gonzalez Is Bert Gonzalez, and for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo he is untouchable and the best entities to explain why Gonzalez is untouchable is the president herself and her master in Washington D.C,” they said, short of giving a hint that the defense chief is a deployed operative of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Philippines.

The groups said any congressional investigation or appropriate probe conducted by any government agency should have Secretary Gonzalez both as prime suspect and hostile witness. The fisherfolk leader said the case of Morong 43 can be objectively face with the inclusion of Gonzalez in the investigation and list of resource persons of the Senate, in case it paves way to the resolution authored by Senator Pia Cayetano calling for a Senate probe on the controversial case.

Likewise, the six groups said the Moro 43 case should merit the immediate and unconditional suspension if not removal of Sec. Gonzalez from his two posts—secretary of Department of National Defense (DND) and National Security Council (NSC) head, being Arroyo’s chief security adviser.

KMP, Pamalakaya, Anakpawis and the three other groups said prior to the abduction of 43 doctors and health workers, Sec. Gonzalez announced the government and the military are all set to resume the campaign of legal offensive against suspected communist leaders and aboveground groups and personalities which he believed have direct and indirect connections with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing—the New People’s Army (NPA). The directive to file criminal charges against leftwing activists and perceived leaders and members of CPP and NPA took place a week before the raid was conducted in Morong, Rizal.

Meanwhile, the six groups challenged all presidential, vice-presidential and senatorial candidates in the May 2010 elections to sign a national covenant that if they win in the elections, they will avoid a repeat of Morong 43 and that the will respect constitutionally guaranteed basic human rights and civil liberties.

The 6 militant groups noted that presidential candidates Sen. Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III and running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas of Liberal Party (LP), Manny Villar of Nacionalista Party, Richard Gordon and running mate, former MMDA chair Bayani Fernando, Lakas-Kampi vice-presidential bet Edu Manzano, independents JC de los Reyes and Nicanor Perlas and Bangon Pilipinas’ Bro. Eddie Villanueva have yet to issue official statements on the defective arrest of 43 medical persons.

The groups said the same holds true to majority of senatorial candidates, and only a handful led by Nacionalista Party (NP) guest candidates Reps. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Liza Maza (Gabriela) and Sen. Cayetano also of NP have sent official statements condemning the arrest and torture of 43 health workers. #

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Fisherfolk organizer detained for bearing ID of Anakpawis party list

By Trinity Biglang Awa

Binangonan, Rizal- An organizer of the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) and former chair of Anakpawis party list-Binangonan chapter illegally arrested and detained by members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Binangonan upon suspicion that the fisherfolk activist has connections with the New People’s Army (NPA) upon discovery of the party list ID in his wallet.

Early this morning, Pamalakaya organizer Ronel Arambulo, 28 was on his way to Pamalakaya-Binangonan staff house in Barangay Wawa to prepare for the relief operations to victims of typhoon Ondoy, when he was chanced upon by Binangonan police conducting an anti-drug saturation drive near the vicinity.

Reports reaching the headquarters of Pamalakaya in Quezon City said Arambulo was taken to Binangonan municipal jail on suspicion that he is a drug pusher and drug user. But when the police found out that he is an organizer of Pamalakaya and former chair of Anakpawis party list, the police told Arambulo that he should be detained because his Anakpawis ID is a proof that he has connections with the NPA and the police kept his cell phone.

Pamalakaya-vice chairperson Salvador France assailed the police for arresting their organizer and for implicating Arambulo to NPA upon the discovery of an Anakpawis party list ID.

“What is wrong with Anakpawis party list ID? That’s a legal identification that Arambulo is an open, legal and aboveground activist. Is it a crime to bear Anakpawis ID for political and legal identification? Is there a law that makes someone criminal, terrorist or unlawful if he has the ID of Anakpawis or other progressive party lists” France added.

The Pamalakaya leader said Arambulo, aside from being his group’s coordinator and organizer in Binangonan for seven years, was elected Anakpawis-Binangonan chair from 2007-2010. Last February 7, the fisherfolk organizer led the election of new set of officers of Anakpawis during its third municipal assembly in Ynares Plaza.

On February 9-10, Arambulo led the five-vehicle caravan of Pamalakaya and Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM) to campaign for the party list bid of Anakpawis and Makabayan coalition senatorial bets Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna) and Liza Maza (Gabriela Women’s Party).

Prior to his arrest this morning, Arambulo was with leaders of Pamalakaya and SLMM last night in Lupang Arenda in Taytay, Rizal for a mini-proclamation rally. The fisherfolk group and the Laguna Lake alliance “miting de avance” attended by more than 2,000 fisherfolk and urban poor declared their support to progressive party lists— Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Kabataan Party, Act Teachers Party list and Akap Bata and endorsed the senatorial bids of Ocampo and Maza.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap urged Binangonan mayor Carlos “Boyet” Ynares to intervene and recall the unlawful and politically motivated arrest of Arambulo. He said Pamalakaya will not hesitate to file criminal and other appropriate charges against the Binangonan PNP if they will not free Arambulo.

“If they will not release Arambulo within the next 12 to 24 hours, we will file criminal and other appropriate charges against the leadership and members of the arresting team of PNP- Binangonan,” he added.

Hicap said Pamalakaya will also file complaint of human rights violations and other grave violations of guaranteed constitutional rights and civil liberties against PNP Binangonan over the illegal arrest and detention of Arambulo by the local police.

“We will deluge the PNP Binangonan with charges. That’s for sure. We will also ask Anakpawis party list representatives Rafael Mariano and Joel Maglunsod to have this politically motivated act of the police investigated in the House of Representatives,” the Pamalakaya official said.

Pamalakaya has dispatched a team of para-legal volunteers and will join officers and members of Anakpawis-Binangonan to conduct their own investigation and seek dialogue with Mayor Ynares. #


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Ondoy victims staged “modest caravan” to campaign for bets

By Gerry Albert Corpuz, Rey Manangan and Axel Pinpin

Antipolo City, Rizal- Typhoon Ondoy survivors and groups supporting the plight of typhoon victims today staged a 10-jeep motorcade along lake towns devastated by the super typhoon in Rizal and Laguna provinces to campaign for party lists and senatorial bets which they said will support the fight of typhoon victims in and out of Congress.

The modest fisherfolk and typhoon Ondoy victims’ motorcade dubbed Laguna Lake People’s Caravan for Social Justice and Progressive Politics was organized by the militant fishermen alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), its Southern Luzon chapter Pamalakaya-Timog Katagalugan, Anakpawis party list, the Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid ng Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK) and the broad Save Laguna Lake Movement (SLLM).

The caravan will start in Jala-Jala, then will pass through Pilila, Tanay, Morong, Baras, Teresa, Cardona, Binangonan, Angono, Antipolo, Cainta and will end up in Lupang Arienda in Taytay, Rizal. On the second day, the Laguna wing caravan composed of two mobile propaganda teams will cover the lake areas of Sta. Cruz, Los Banos, Calamba, San Pedro and Binan on their way to Lupang Arienda, also in Taytay, Rizal.

Pamalakaya national chair Fernando Hicap said campaigners will post election materials in populated and designated areas along Laguna Lake in both Rizal and Laguna provinces. The propaganda teams embedded in the mini caravan will distribute materials and posters of progressive party list groups like Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and Kabataan Party, as well as the campaign posters of Makabayan senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo of Bayan Muna and Liza Maza of Gabriela Women’s Party.

The Pamalakaya leader said caravan organizers will endorse the party list bids of Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela and Kabataan Party and the senatorial candidacies of Ocampo and Maza in tomorrow’s grand proclamation rally to be attended by not less than 5,000 Ondoy victims and residents of Lupang Arienda in Taytay, Rizal.

“This is politics of change in action. The people will vote base on issues and not on politics of personalities and popularity. This is the ultimate concretization of people’s electoral agenda in the May 2010 elections,” added Hicap.

For her part, Kasama-TK spokesperson Imelda Lacandazo said the modest fisherfolk caravan will also highlight the demand of Ondoy victims to stop the massive privatization and conversion of Laguna lake into an across-the-lake hub for big business and frustrate the government plans to demolish close to 100,000 fisherfolk and urban poor families in Lupang Arienda and other parts of the 90,000 hectare Laguna Lake.

Lacandazo, also one of the conveners of SLLM said nominees of party list groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela, and Makabayan senatorial candidates Ocampo and Maza were also invited to personally accept the endorsement of Lupang Arienda and Laguna Lake people of their respective bids in the May 2010 elections.

“Lupang Arienda people and the rest of the victims of state sponsored disaster at the height of typhoon Ondoy in Laguna Lake are entrusting their political and electoral votes to the real servants of the poor. The progressive party lists and Reps. Ocampo and Maza will get all the support they could get from the lake people of Laguna for their unyielding commitment to the cause of the marginalized fishermen and poor folks in Laguna Lake,” Lacandazo added.

Kasama-TK said the caravan will also call for the immediate and unconditional release of 43 doctors and medical personnel arrested by state security forces last Saturday during a health seminar inside a resort in Morong, Rizal.

Officials of the 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army insisted that those arrested were members of New People’s Army and were conducting training on bomb making when the 300 government troops raided the venue, arrested the health workers and brought them to Camp Capinpin in Tanay, Rizal over the weekend. With reports from Pepsi La Loma and Sarsi Pimentel


Filed under Breaking News, disaster, elections, human rights, Laguna Lake, politics