Police arrested an activist and trade union organizer in a raid early morning on Thursday in Quezon City in time for Human Rights Day celebration.
Elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) arrested Dennise Velasco at about 3 a.m. for illegal possession of firearms and explosives when police served the search warrant in his house in Lagro, Quezon City.
Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert issued the warrant to allow the police to search the house of Velasco. She is the same judge who issued search warrants that yielded the arrests of other activists in Bacolod and Manila last year.
Various groups confirmed the arrest of Velasco but claimed he was arrested on fake evidence because the guns and explosives seized from him were all planted.
Labor group Defend Job Philippines said the arrest of Velasco came after the reported surveillance on its office last December 3.
Velasco has been actively campaigning for various labor demands against contractualization and disputes among workers in companies like PLDT, Jollibee Foods Corporation, Regent Foods Corp., and Pepsi, among others.
The group condemned Velasco’s arrest and called for his immediate release.
“These kinds of attack and harassment against trade unionists and labor rights advocates must end. We cry foul over Velasco’s arrest being done in time of human rights day,” it said.
December 10 marks the International Human Rights Day, the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights in 1948.
Police arrested Velasco in the middle of an intensifying government campaign against activists and red-tagging of progressive groups.
According to militant group Anakbayan, Velasco and his wife were asked to drop to the floor while facing down for an hour prior to the search.
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) described this as a gestapo-like raid conducted by police on Velasco’s house.
“The scenes of pre-dawn raids, sometimes resulting in extrajudicial killings, has been a common practice under the current regime,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said. “The attacks are often justified and prefaced by red-tagging and other forms of vilification.”