CHR probe sought on arrests of activists in Bicol on Labor Day weekend

Published May 3, 2021, 6:04 PM

by Ben Rosario

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Monday, May 3, asked the Commission on Human Rights to immediately conduct an investigation into the police and military raids conducted in Bicol over the weekend, noting that serious violations of the law and the service of search warrant were allegedly committed by law enforcers.

Lagman said Bicolano activists have become the latest victims of the “pernicious pattern of red-tagging, terror-baiting and evidence planting.”

The veteran lawmaker gathered that while operatives searched the homes of the persons subjected to court-issued search warrants, neither members of their families nor other persons were allowed to witness the operation.

Arrested in the raids staged at dawn a day after the Labor Day celebration were Daniel Balucio, a pastor of the National Council of Churches iin the Philippines and Bayan Muna spokesperson for Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Sarah Sta. Rosa, spokesperson of Jovenes Anabayan in Bicol.

Search at Balucio’s house in San Isidro, Sto. Domingo, Albay, reportedly yielded explosives and guns. The barangay chairman and councilman were allegedly notified of the raid over an hour after the police operatives entered Balucio’s house.

“Moreover, on the same day the residence of Justine Mesias, a student leader of the Bicol University and spokesperson of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny Bicol, was also raided, and a gun and explosives were reportedly found in his house, although he was not present during the raid,” disclosed Lagman.

“I am urging the Commission on Human Rights to immediately conduct an investigation on the subject arrests and seizures to determine violations of human rights and fundamental liberties,” he added.

Asst. Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro assailed the “series of human rights violations” a day after those arrested participated in the Labor Day celebration.

“We vehemently condemn another series of human rights violations against activists in Zambales and Bicol last May 1 and May 2,” Castro said.

“”Those arrested in Bicol are now facing trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms. Both Balucio and Sta. Rosa have been victims of red-tagging. While the Zambales 12 are now being forced by the Philippine National Police to sign documents declaring that they are members of the CPP-NPA. Their organizations also have been relentlessly tagged by the Duterte administration terrorist organizations,” the lady solon said.