By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Early this morning in Calatagan, Batangas, the police searched the homes of two barangay (village) executives and two community leaders. According to residents who witnessed the incident, the police said they brought a search warrant but they planted pieces of evidence such as hand grenades. The police arrested Noel Delos Reyes, the barangay captain of Talibayog in Calatagan; Eduardo Penafloreda, barangay councilor; and, community leaders Senando Marco and Joseph Marasigan.
In phone messages sent to Bulatlat by members of Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda at Magsasaka sa Baha at Talibayog (SMMBT) and Karapatan-Batangas, they requested legal assistance fearing trumped- charges in the offing.
Fisherfolk and farmers’ communities in Batangas are currently reeling from the increased military deployment and operations in the area. After a 30-minute firefight between the troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and alleged guerrillas belonging to the New People’s Army early morning of Sept. 24, the AFP has deployed more troops and conducted aerial strikes in pursuit of the alleged rebels. Hundreds of families were forced to evacuate. Many people’s organizations expressed fears that the military strikes and deployment are not only a prelude to declaring Martial Law in Batangas but also a move to rapidly do away with the villagers and opposition to a large-scale gold mining project.