Kabataan Party Nominees Harassed by Military

Even the parents of nominees of progressive party-list groups are not spared of the harassment directed against them. Last March 13, the father of Kabataan Party’s second nominee and National Capital Region (NCR) chairperson Enrico Almonguerra received a letter from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) summoning him and Enrico to the Civic Military Operations (CMO) headquarters in Fort Bonifacio on March 22. This is not the first time that the youth party-list group’s nominees experienced harassment from the military.

BY ZOFIA LEAL
Bulatlat

Even the parents of nominees of progressive party-list groups are not spared of the harassment directed against them.

Last March 13, the father of Kabataan Party’s second nominee and National Capital Region (NCR) chairperson Enrico Almonguerra received a letter from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) summoning him and Enrico to the Civic Military Operations (CMO) headquarters in Fort Bonifacio on March 22.

The letter, signed by a Col. Ricardo R. Visaya, states that they are concerned about Enrico’s involvement in a “leftist organization” and that it can have a bad effect on his education and eventually ruin his future. The letter also states that they are inviting the Almonguerras to appear at the headquarters so that they may be able to help Enrico for the betterment of his education and his future.

Enrico is already a graduate of the Philippine Christian University (PCU), where he was student council president, and has already passed the board examination for social work.

This is not the first time that the youth party-list group’s nominees experienced harassment from the military. Last Feb. 22, Angela Colmenares, their sixth nominee, was almost run over by two consecutive vehicles on her way home.

“This creates a chilling effect among our members and their families intended to frighten students who are contemplating of joining groups which are critical of government policies,” Kabataan Party’s first nominee Raymond Palatino said. “What is more alarming is how the AFP is actively pursuing our coordinators and members even to their homes. The military already has a list of the addresses of our coordinators and members. We fear that our homes will be the next targets of troop deployment and military surveillance.”

Enrico stressed that such events and the presence of the military in the Metro Manila area are part of the national security plan Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch) II and are manifestations of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s ultimate goal of “demonizing and crushing down the leaders, as well as the mass membership and supporters of progressive party-list groups.��

Enrico also pointed to the vote-rich areas of Caloocan City, Quezon City and Manila as areas that will be hotspots in the coming polls, explaining that they currently have the highest concentration of AFP troops in Metro Manila.,

The party-list group expressed concern that the presence of the military in the communities might coerce the residents into voting for candidates supported by the military. “What we’ll be having is another set of election victors whose legitimacy is questionable similar to the last presidential elections,” Palatino said.

As part of its nationwide campaign, the youth party-list group has already started to disseminate a petition and signature campaign to call for Arroyo and to the other leaders of the AFP to pull out their troops out of the communities.

Kabataan Party also urges the youth and the entire Metro Manila populace to be vigilant and critical amidst the “intensifying military intervention in relation to the coming elections.”(Bulatlat.com)

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