By Chito Chavez
Militant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) has appealed to authorities to release activists arrested in the Halloween raids in Bacolod City and Metro Manila.
The group urged the government to release from detention the leaders and members of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno (NFSW-KMU), KMP-Negros, Makabayan-Negros and the young cultural workers from Teatro Bungkal and Teatro Obrero who are now detained by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Bacolod City.
“Those apprehended in the Negros raids and arrests are members of democratic and progressive mass organizations — they are all unarmed civilians and several of them are minors,’’ the KMP said.
Those arrested are the following:
John Milton ‘Butch’ Lozande, chairperson of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, former secretary-general of the Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA) and former nominee of Anakpawis Partylist.
Danny Tabura, paralegal staff of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW).
Albert Dela Cerna of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Negros
Anne Krueger, volunteer journalist of Paghimutad community media, a labor organizer of BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN), and wife of BAYAN-Negros chairperson Mike de la Concepcion.
Romulo Bito-on of Makabayan-Negros and his wife Amaylin Bito-on.
Noli Rosales of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Negros.
Proceso Quiatzon of Karapatan-Negros.
Activists Diego Malacad and Roberto Lachica
NFSW members Imelda Sultan and Ma. Lindy Perucho
Ten youth cultural workers from rural-based theater groups Teatro Bungkal and Teatro Obrero.
Twenty-one workers of Ceres Bus Liner, KMU members.
Youth leader Karina de la Cerna
Thirteen minors, with ages ranging from 12 to 17 years old.
Twenty-one male workers of Ceres Bus Liner who were seeking paralegal assistance from labor center KMU-Negros at the time of the raid were also unjustly arrested and detained.
Based on the initial reports from the Quick Reaction Team from human rights group Karapatan, the arrested activists were interrogated for hours by the police, were not given proper medical attention, and were not fed since their arrest and detention.
The parents of the seven minors aged 12 to 17 years old were not allowed to see their children.
“We condemn this further maltreatment of the arrested activists and workers. The police and military have been abusing their authority under the pretext of Executive Order No. 70 and Memorandum Order No. 32,” saids Danilo Ramos, chairperson of KMP.
“The arrested individuals and their families are experiencing severe distress and trauma. We can only blame the police and military for this situation,” he added.
Ramos also noted that 119 individuals have been unjustly arrested and detained in Negros Island under the Duterte administration.
“Those organizations maliciously red-tagged by authorities and the arrested activists are assisting hacienda farm workers and workers with ongoing land and labor cases. They are advocating legitimate and democratic causes. All of them are unarmed civilians and the pieces of evidence against them were planted and fabricated by the arresting officers from the CIDG and police,” the KMP noted.
The Supreme Court Administrative Matter 03-08-02 series of 2004 gave powers to Executive Judges of Quezon City and Manila to issue search warrants upon the application and endorsement of a government agency and its chief.
“In this particular case, Quezon City RTC Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert issued the search warrants in the Negros raids. Villavert also issued a separate search warrant that led to the arrest of NCR-based activist-couple Cora Agovida of Gabriela Metro Manila and Michael Bartolome of urban poor group KADAMAY. We must look into the legality and constitutionality of the search warrants issued by Villavert. For all we know, those warrants are defective,” Ramos argued.
“The raids in Negros and Manila set ominous precedents of a wide-scale and massive crackdown against activists and critics of the Duterte government,” he conclude.