State security forces yesterday launched simultaneous raids at offices of militant organizations, arresting 62 activists including several teenagers in an action described by a human rights group as “preclude to a declaration of martial law” in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
The raids, allegedly conducted by the Philippine Army, and elements of the Criminal Detection and Investigation Group (CIDG) and Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) began early afternoon at the offices of Gabriela, a women’s rights group, Bayanmuna and the National Federation of Sugar Workers or NFSW.
Eleven CIDG and SWAT personnel with long firearms visited the office of Gabriela and presented a search warrant issued by Quezon City’s Regional Trial Court Branch 89. Anne Krueger, a member of Gabriela noted the defective warrant as the address stated there is not the same address as Gabriela’s.
Krueger is now detained at the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office. A news report on the site Bulatlat, reported this:
“The warrant, signed by Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert on Oct. 30, states that there is probable cause to believe that firearms and explosive were stored at the Yellow House, Ilang Ilang Street, Barangay Bata, Bacolod City, therefore violating Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
Named in the warrant were Kreuger, Mike dela Concepcion, secretary general of Bayan-Bacolod, four other individuals and several Jane and John Does.
Kreuger went on Facebook to document the search. CIDG personnel found a blue backpack inside the compound, which Kreuger and her companions said does not belong to them. Inside the bag were clothes and a handgun.
Kreuger said they saw a man in civilian clothes who went inside the compound while she and her companions were instructed to go outside.
Human rights alliance Karapatan condemned the raid. “The use of search warrants have become a trend increasingly used in Negros, which makes offices and individuals vulnerable to the planting of evidence,” the group said.
The group said that in March 2019, the search warrant used for the simultaneous operations targeting peasant activists in three different towns in Negros was also issued from a different region, particularly in Cebu.
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, maintained that all three organizations are operating legally, and to allege that they are “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines is baseless. “Lest we remind this government, freedom of association and the right to petition the government for redress are enshrined in the Constitution,” she said.”