Manila police arrest activist couple
By Joseph Cuevas
Women and other groups held a quick reaction protest in front of the Manila Police District headquarters against what they allege was an illegal arrest of an activist couple in Manila last Thursday, October 31.
The Philippine National Police (PNP)-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the Manila Police District arrested Gabriela-Metro Manila spokesperson Cora Agovida and her husband Mickael Tan Bartolome, campaign officer of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Metro Manila.
The police forcibly entered the couple’s house at around 5:00 o’clock in the morning in Paco, Manila and ordered them, their two children (10 and 2 years old, respectively) and a companion to lie down on the floor.
The police alleged that a .45 caliber pistol and two hand grenades were found inside the couple’s house after a search.
The police said they had search warrants issued by Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 88, the same judge who issued the warrants used on the mass raids and arrests in Bacolod City late Thursday afternoon.
Agovida’s group Gabriela however allege the search warrants were issued based on spurious police “intelligence” reports.
The group pointed out that the search warrants indicated specific calibers and types of guns and explosives that were the exact guns and grenades presented after the raids.
“Everything was indeed orchestrated,” Gabriela said.
Newly-installed PNP National Capital Region commander Debold Sinas met with Burgos-Villavert Wednesday afternoon, a police Facebook page announced.
The police refused requests by lawyers and medical workers to visit the couple inside the MPD headquarters as of last night.
Their children were reportedly forcibly taken and brought to the Manila Reception and Action Center, a government-run “shelter” for street-children.
Gabriela and KADAMAY-Metro Manila condemned the couple’s arrest and called for their immediate release.
The groups condemned the Rodrigo Duterte government’s crackdown against women and urban poor activists under its ant-insurgency programs Oplan Kalasag and Executive Order No. 70. # (with reports from Raymund B. Villanueva)