Journalist, 6 trade union organizers arrested in police raids on human rights day
[UPDATED] A journalist was among those arrested by the Philippine National Police in a wave of arrests today, International Human Rights Day.
Lady Ann Salem, editor of alternative news site Manila Today, was arrested by the police at 9AM at her residence in Mandaluyong City.
She was first taken to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) headquarters in Quezon City but was whisked to a Pasig City police office just as her lawyer Kristina Conti arrived.
Conti and Manila Today staff followed the police van to Pasig City but were led to a chase that ended in Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City where Salem is now being detained.
Salem, a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC), co-founded the alternative media group Tudla and was among those who attended the founding assembly of the People’s Alternative Media Network (Altermidya) in 2010.
She is also a fellow of the Graciano Lopez Jaena Community Journalism Workshop of UP-CMC.
Tudla and Manila Today are chapters of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.
Salem is also the communications officer of the global media group International Association of Women in Radio and Television.
Wave of arrests
Since 2AM this morning, the police had been raiding homes and arresting trade union organizers.
Dennise Velasco of Defend Jobs Philippines was first to be arrested at their home in Lagro, Quezon city by the CIDG and was taken to Camp Karingal, headquarters of the Quezon City Police District.
Like many other arrested activists, the police alleged that Velasco was in possession of guns and explosives.
In a Facebook Live post, Velasco’s wife Diane Zapata denied they were keeping such items at their home.
She in turn accused the police of planting them while they were ordered to lie face down for an hour and the police team had unhampered access to their house.
In a police report, the CIDG said it also arrested a Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Raiselle Astudillo, Jaymie Gregorio, and Joel Demate in a wave of arrests in Quezon City, Mandaluyong and Manila that netted several guns, explosives and ammunition.
Human rights and media groups are organizing an online rally at 7PM tonight to demand for Salem and the trade union organizers’ freedom.
Indignation rallies are also scheduled Friday morning at Camp Karingal, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court and Camp Crame. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)