“With the raid of the office of progressive organizations by combined elements of police and military in Daet, Camarines Sur and the subsequent arrest of four activists, the Morong 43 template is now being replicated.” Karapatan
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA — Elements of the Daet Police and the 9th Infantry Division, 902nd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army raided the office of progressive groups at F Pimentel Ave., Pasig, Brgy II, Daet, Camarines Norte at 10:30 a.m., Nov. 22, human rights group Karapatan said in a report.
Four activists were arrested. They are Esmeraldo Bardon, chairman of the provincial chapter of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP),Denver Bacolod, a staff member of Karapatan, Mherlo Bermas, a member of Kabataan Party and Elpidio de Luna, a former political prisoner who was released just this October. The three have been brought to the Daet Philippine National Police.
Karapatan said the soldiers and police who raided the office barred everyone from leaving and entering the premises. “After some time, just like in the case of the Morong 43, the raiding troops purportedly were able to recover grenades from the office!” Karapatan said. Office property and personal items were taken from them, including computers, cameras and documents.
The Morong 43 are the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong, Rizal during a health skills training. They were slapped with charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and were branded as members of the NPA. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
“This is a very alarming trend of raiding legal offices of non-government and human rights organizations; planting evidences and then saying that the office is a “safe house”of the rebels who ‘recruit the youth to become rebel NPAs [New People’s Army],” Karapatan chairwoman Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.
“The office is shared by progressive organizations. There is no truth to the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] claim that the office is being used as a ‘recruitment office’of the New People’s Army (NPA). Charges against them are trumped-up and the supposed ‘evidence” for bomb-making was planted, as what was done in the Morong 43 case,” Makabayan president Satur Ocampo said in a separate statement.
“This is a direct attack on legal progressive organizations and human rights defenders. We know that trumped-up charges have been conjured against leaders and members of these organizations in Bicol and elsewhere. But this is no justification for the state’s violence against them,” Enriquez said.
“In the face of growing national and international clamor for the release of the Morong 43, illegal arrests, detention, and the filing of trumped-up charges against activists persists under the Aquino administration,” Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano said.
Enriquez added that the recent incident shows that the Oplan Bantay Laya counter-insurgency program is very much operational and ‘resorted to by state security forces to silence legitimate dissent and criticism.’
Ocampo said the commander-in-chief of the AFP, President Benigno S. Aquino III, should be made accountable for the worsening human rights situation in the country.
Enriquez said they would certainly file counter-charges. “The international human rights community would hear of this. And Aquino will sooner or later have to answer for that,” Enriquez added. (Bulatlat.com)