A provincial official of women’s group Gabriela was arrested on Sunday in Lubuagan, Kalinga for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Gabriela Cordillera council member Beatrice “Betty” Belen was arrested in her home in Barangay Uma after police served search warrants.
A composite team from the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the 503rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army served the warrants which led to Belen’s arrest. She was then brought to the Kalinga Police Provincial Office.
Rights group Karapatan condemned the arrest of Belen, saying she was a victim of red-tagging by the military.
Soldiers allegedly told people in Kalinga communities that Belen was working for front organizations of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
“The recent arrest of Beatrice Belen is a very clear example of the dangers of red-tagging, resulting in violations to the right to life, liberty and security of human rights defenders,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Belen denied the seized firearms and explosives belong to her and her family, she added.
Belen is known for leading several women’s activities opposing the Chevron Energy company’s geothermal power project in Kalinga.
She is the latest Gabriela’s regional leader to be arrested, after Nerita Castro, Cora Agovida, and Jen Nagrampa.
Gabriela demanded the release of Belen, claiming she was arrested on trumped up charges.