The alleged safehouse in Marikina raided by the police Saturday is a family home, a lawyer of detained National Democratic Front of the Philippine (NDFP) peace consultants said.
Public Interest Law Center managing counsel Rachel Pastores said police claims that the house located at 34-A Chrysanthemum St., Loyola Residents, Barangay Barangka was a safehouse where guns grenades were kept is “preposterous”.
“How utterly preposterous. Gamara was found staying above a coffee shop in the sentro of Imus City, with the police station a stone’s throw away. The house in Marikina, which the police claimed was another hideout, is a family home,” Pastores in a statement said.
Earlier, National Capital Region Police Office director P/Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said the police applied for another search warrant to conduct the raid in Marikina after they recovered a suspected fake identification card on Gamara bearing the address.
Eleazar said that several documents, a seafarer’s identification and a record book, two hand grenades and a 9mm pistol were confiscated during the operation conducted Friday morning.
“We are now looking for the caretaker of the house identified as Ryan Dizon. He was not around when the search warrant was implemented on Friday,” Eleazar said.
Pastores, however, said acquaintances, old friends, and family of peace consultants are now clear targets of police and military, who have come together in a crackdown against peace consultants and advocates.
“Planting firearms and explosives is the police grasping at straws, because there is no legitimate reason to arrest or investigate the persons found therein, nor the peace consultants themselves,” Pastores said.
The lawyer recalled that retired priest Arturo Balagat arrested with Gamara in Imus was later found by the prosecutor general to have no criminal intent and ties with the peace consultant other than graciously giving him shelter and food.
But the police has threatened to have Balagat’s cooperative’s licenses and registration cancelled, Pastores said.
“Both army and police officials must temper their braggadocio, not until their competence and intelligence catch up,” Pastores said.
The lawyer also criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 and the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict it created for being very busy in picking up “sick, defenseless, and unarmed” NDFP peace consultants.
“When Francisco Fernandez and Cleofe Lagtapon, likewise peace consultants, were arrested in Laguna a week ago, the army claimed to have also found them with pistols and grenades – and then, paradoxically, crowed over how weak and vulnerable they were,” Pastores said.
“Executive Order No. 70 wants to put an end to the roots of the insurgency and reclaim the peace, but why do its implementors spawn more injustice along the way? Long-drawn vendetta, disbalance of power and inequities, as demonstrated in the illegal arrests and detention of peace consultants, only pose more reasons to resist,” she added.
Pastores said they are confident that charges against Gamara, Fernandez, Lagtapon, as well as the others victims of planted evidence and perjured testimonies, will be eventually dismissed and disposed of. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)