MANILA, Philippines – Unidentified police operatives have allegedly raided the Manila office of Bayan and three activists were arrested.
Karapatan identified three arrested activists as Ram Carlo Bautista, Bayan Manila Campaign Director; Alma Moran, secretary Manila Workers Unity Secretariat; and Ina Nacino, Kadamay Manila Coordinator.
“We hold to account the Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Duterte government’s National Task Force as per Executive Order No. 70,” said Karapatan.
Elements of the Philippine National Police, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Manila Police District Special Weapon and Tactics unit conducted the midnight attack that resulted to the arrests of three activists who were staying in the said office.
Based on initial reports, cops seized firearms and ammunitions in the said headquarters during their operations.
“Similar modus of planting evidences has been seen as a pattern to silence government critics,” said Defend Job Philippines in a statement.
The group said they see this recent attack as a desperate move of the Duterte government to quell and suppress individuals and groups who are critical to its anti-labor, anti-poor and anti-people policies.
The raid and arrests against Bautista, Moran and Nacino came immediately after the massive arrests of 57 activists in Negros and activist couple, Cora Agovida of Gabriela Metro Manila and Michael Tan Bartolome of Kadamay Metro Manila in Paco, Manila last October 31.
Defend Job Philippines also called for the immediate release of the Tondo 3, Negros 57, Agovida, Bartolome and all other political prisoners in the country.
The group also called for the junking of Executive Order 70 and the Implan Kalasag scheme in Metro Manila that legalizes crackdown and attacks against progressive groups and individuals across the country.
Karapatan said police operatives are now trying to cover their tracks by taking on a semblance of legality, but these arbitrary arrests following raids are far from lawful.
They said “these attacks are indicative of a compromised justice system that mindlessly complies with the whims, demands, and sinister agenda of this government.”
“Again, we reiterate – whatever evidence is planted, the police and government narrative defy logic and those who enforce and abetted these patently illegal moves, including judges, should be held to account. These are brazen violations of the right to association and other civil liberties,” Karapatan said.
Members of progressive groups on Monday held a picket in front of the Philippine National Police Regional Office VI in Fort San Pedro, Iloilo City to condemn the series of raids against legitimate people’s organizations and demand for the immediate release of 57 activists and progressive members nabbed in Negros.
According to Elmer Forro, secretary-general of Bayan Panay, these attacks are part of the ongoing crackdown of the Duterte regime against political activists who are vocal of his regime’s economic and political policies that continue to press the people in hunger and poverty.
“Duterte is intolerant of dissent. He issues orders and policies detrimental to the rights of the people,” Bayan said in a statement.
Forro is referring to Executive Order No. 70 issued last December 2018 to create a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the employment of a whole-of-nation approach in conduct of counterinsurgency operations where civilian agencies are weaponized.
Forro said that what activists do is for the benefit of the people.
Progressive groups have long promoted people’s welfare and defending people’s rights by opposing policies like Train Law, Rice Liberalization Law, extrajudicial killings, and pork barrel, among others.
While criticizing the government, Forro said they also offer alternatives like campaigning for the passage of the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill, end of contractualization and increase of wages of our workers.
Bayan called on the people to help the people in the Negros Island by condemning the crackdown against people’s democratic organizations. (STACY ANG/IAMIGO/CNS)