Rights group says 3 women arrested in Pampanga are organizers, not terrorists

The three women arrested by the police and military in a raid in Mabalacat, Pampanga on Wednesday are civilian organizers of farmers and were not high-ranking Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) officers, a human rights group said.

Karapatan-Central Luzon said Maria Teresa Buscayno, Erlinda David and Evelyn Munoz are organizers of farmers and are members of Bayan Muna in the region.

“They are veterans of many decades of service to fisher folk, indigenous peoples, farm workers, farmers and the poor at great personal sacrifice,” the group said in a statement.

“Instead of being grateful for their contributions to fellow citizens, trumped-up charges, arbitrary arrest and violation of their basic human rights are what the regime repaid them with,” it added.

The Mabalacat police announced on Thursday it arrested Munoz, alleging the 63-year woman is the head of the CPP’s Central Luzon Committee, a member of the underground party’s Central Committee and the acting secretary of its National Finance Commission.

Munoz is wanted for murder, it added.

In its announcement, the police identified Buscayno and David as Erlinda Pineda Lansang and Margarita David Lansang who were also arrested for alleged obstruction of justice and possession of a .45 caliber handgun.

The police also claimed they seized 26 mobile phones, three laptops, documents and P400,000 in cash from the three.

Karapatan-Central Luzon insisted however that the arrested women are not terrorists but are servants of the people of the region.

“Their hairs have become white for their many years of service to the people. They have grown old remaining faithful to their principles. They are women who chose to cast light on the people of Central Luzon,” the group said.

Karapatan-Central Luzon also said the joint raid by the police and the military against three unarmed women of advancing ages was overkill. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)