Drop Baseless Charges vs Filipino Women Activists – US-Based Women’s Group

A New York City-based women’s group of Filipino-Americans condemned what it calls unfounded charges against 72 activists in Southern Tagalog. Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), a member of GABRIELA, said the “recent spate of state repression and violations of civil liberties is a continuation of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s deteriorating administration and governance.”

BY BULATLAT
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH

A New York City-based women’s group of Filipino-Americans condemned what it calls unfounded charges against 72 activists in Southern Tagalog.

Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE), a member of GABRIELA, said the “recent spate of state repression and violations of civil liberties is a continuation of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s deteriorating administration and governance.”

Seventy-two individuals have been charged with multiple murder and frustrated multiple murder for allegedly participating in an ambush by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro IN March 2006.

Most of the accused are members of progressive people’s organizations under Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance), Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU or May First Movement) and progressive party-list groups such as Bayan Muna (People First), Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), and Anakpawis (Toiling Masses).

Six have already been arrested and detained at the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Jail, Calapan City.

FiRE noted that there are 20 women in the Southern Tagalog 72, some of whom are members of GABRIELA and others key leaders in the formation of the progressive GWP.

“It is explicit that even as a woman, GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) has no motive to protect women’s rights to due process and freedom of speech, much less their basic rights to food, work and healthcare. Women in droves have been catalysts for the change sorely needed for their communities, and more importantly, their children’s future,” said the group.

Valerie Francisco, chairperson of FiRE, said, “This is a blatant move of the Arroyo government to arrest activists without any form of legal due process. It is a direct attack on people’s civil liberties and human rights.”

“Since the start of her presidency in 2001, the Philippine military under GMA’s command has been targeting activists left and right with almost a thousand dead and hundreds missing. Instead of killing one activist at a time, GMA is beginning to sweep up whole batches of leaders all at once,” said Francisco.

The group recalled that in 2006, rebellion charges were filed against party-list representative Liza Maza of GWP, and leaders from Bayan Muna, and Anakpawis. The Supreme Court ordered the dismissal of the case.

FiRE called on the Philippine government to drop the charges against the Southern Tagalog 72 and to free all political prisoners.(Bulatlat.com)

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