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Peasant leader’s death sparks outrage, calls for justice

AlterMidya

Longtime peasant leader Joseph Canlas, who had been detained over trumped-up charges, has passed away today, May 11, after he was rushed to a hospital three days ago, according to peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

“We condemn in strongest terms the jail authorities’ neglect and the Duterte government’s unjust incarceration of Ka Joseph which led to his untimely death this morning,” Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said. “We express our deepest condolences to his family.”

Canlas, chairperson of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon, was arrested March 30 by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police in Mexico, Pampanga. He was charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives — a criminal case that human rights groups called the “standard” charges fabricated against activists under the Duterte administration.

The peasant leader was rushed to an Angeles City hospital due to low oxygen level and possible stroke. The following morning, he was transferred to an intensive care unit due to acute respiratory failure and COVID-19.

On May 10, Canlas had lapsed into a coma despite being intubated and connected to a mechanical ventilator.

Human rights groups earlier decried “unjust treatment” of Canlas under custody of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology. They said the land reform advocate was subjected to severe conditions that made him vulnerable to ailments like COVID-19. Hospital records showed his cause of death as pneumonia.

Peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), where Canlas served as vice-chairperson, noted that he was in stable condition prior to detention. His health would soon deteriorate under jail custody as proven by his complaints of difficulty in breathing and stuttering speech.

“If jail authorities thoroughly checked Canlas’s health condition, they would have known that he has hypertension and diabetes which makes him more vulnerable to COVID infection,” KMP said.

“If he received proper medical attention while in detention, then the risks could have been lessened,” the group added.

A day after his arrest, Canlas was transferred and put under quarantine at the CIDG Region 3. He was not allowed to receive visitors, including family members and counsel.

According to KMP, Canlas was transferred after two weeks to the BJMP Detention Center in Angeles City after an X-ray examination. Since the BJMP’s facility was full, he was listed to be placed under quarantine.

The peasant advocate was put in BJMP’s quarantine facility along with 100 or more detainees as of April 22. He was transferred to a regular jail after two more weeks.

Who is Joseph Canlas?

Canlas was known in Central Luzon for his decades-long struggle against land grabbing and displacement of farmers in Hacienda Luisita, Hacienda Dolores, Pantabangan Dam, Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija, Camp Gregg in Pangasinan, New Clark City, and expressways CLEX, TPLEX and SCTEX among others.

He finished BS Forestry at Pampanga Agricultural College and became an employee at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He soon became exposed to corruption in the government agency, especially in the implementation of environmental projects.

Canlas eventually resigned from government work and formed the group Anak Gubat to continue his advocacy of protecting the environment. He became a member of the peasant group Aguman dareng Maglalautang Capampangan (AMC) in 1997. During this time, he was also elected as an officer of  Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Pampanga.

In 2003, he became the chairperson of the AMGL and led a membership reaching up to 10,000 farmer-members. According to a Bayan-Gitnang Luson, Canlas led successful people’s campaigns in Central Luzon such as the agricultural workers’ strike in Hacienda Luisita, and against infrastructure projects like the New Clark City, Balog-Balog Dam, Aboitiz Geothermal Powerplant, massive land use conversion and the displacement of farmers and Aetas.

In the middle of the pandemic while he was being constantly red-tagged and harassed by state security forces, Canlas was still at the forefront of relief efforts and calls for sufficient health services and economic assistance to peasants and Aetas in Central Luzon.

His organizations KMP, AMGL, Bayan, as well as other progressive groups have denounced the injustice against the peasant leader. In a statement, the KMP said “we could only blame the Duterte administration for his untimely death. His unjust detention led to the swift deterioration of his health condition.”

“We point our fingers to the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that subjected Canlas to constant red-tagging, Angeles City RTC Executive Judge Ma. Angelica T. Paras-Quiambao who issued the search warrant against Canlas, the PNP-CIDG that executed the defective warrant and carried out the illegal arrest last March 30, and the BJMP for consciously neglecting Canlas’ health condition,” the peasant group said.

According to KMP, peasant organizations and land reform advocates will hold a series of protests, starting with an indignation rally at the Commission of Human Rights complex in Quezon City this afternoon, May 11.

With reports from Ratziel San Juan and Pokus Gitnang Luson 

Joseph Canlas in a coma; KMP blames neglect by jail authorities

Detained Central Luzon-based peasant leader Joseph Canlas tested positive of the dreaded coronavirus disease and is now in a coma in a Pampanga hospital, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said.

The farmers’ group said Canlas has low oxygen levels despite being intubated and connected to a mechanical ventilator since his transfer to the intensive care unit Sunday morning.

Canlas complained of difficulty in breathing and stuttering speech on Saturday, leading his family to suspect he both has Covid and has suffered a stroke.

The veteran land reform advocate, Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon chairperson and KMP vice chairperson, was arrested in Mexico, Pampanga on March 30 on the standard charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police.

Joseph Canlas after his arrest. (KMP photo)

KMP said Canlas was in stable physical condition before his arrest and detention but his health quickly deteriorated due to neglect by jail authorities as well as severe and miserable jail conditions.

“If jail authorities thoroughly checked Canlas’s health condition, they would have known that he has hypertension and diabetes which makes him more vulnerable to COVID infection,” KMP said.

“If he received proper medical attention while in detention, then the risks could have been lessened,” the group added.

KMP said Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) Angeles District Warden Jail Supt. Rebecca Manalo-Tiguelo belittled Canlas’ initial complaints as well as those of other detainees.

“Last week, Canlas expressed that he was not feeling well but Manalo-Tiguelo simply dismissed Canlas’s ailment as ‘umaarte lang’ (just putting up an act),” KMP said.

The group also said Canlas and fellow detainees were refused Covid testing to determine if they were COVID positive.

“We highly suspect that Joseph Canlas got COVID infected while under quarantine inside BJMP jail facilities,” KMP said.

How he contracted Covid

In a statement, the KMP presented a timeline of Canlas’ health troubles:

March 30 – Canlas was illegally arrested in Barangay Sapang Maisac, Mexico, Pampanga. He was then brought to PNP Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga;

April 1 – He was transferred and put under quarantine at the CIDG Region 3. While quarantined, he was not allowed to receive visitors even from family members and counsel;

April 15 – After 14 days, he was transferred to the BJMP Detention Center in Angeles City after an X-ray examination. He was listed to be put under quarantine, as BJMP’s facility was full;

April 22 – He was put in BJMP’s quarantine facility, along with 100 or more detainees;

NNARA Youth UP Diliman photo

May 6 – After another 14 days, he was transferred to a regular jail, Selda 25;

May 7 – In a phone call with relatives, Canlas exhibited stuttering in speech. He also exhibited physical weakness and needed help in eating, walking, etc. By night time he had difficulties breathing;

May 8 – On Saturday evening, Canlas was rushed to a hospital in Angeles City due to a possible stroke and low oxygen level (74%, compared to the 95% and higher normal level);

May 9 – On early Sunday morning, he was transferred to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) due to acute respiratory failure and COVID;

May 10 – He is already in a coma, and still has low oxygen levels despite being intubated and connected to a mechanical ventilator.

Human rights groups and activists conducted an online rally on Monday calling for Canlas’ immediate release.

“Ka Joseph does not even deserve a day in detention, yet he is now in a life-threatening situation due to grave government neglect and deprivation of necessary health and medical attention,” KMP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Central Luzon’s most prominent political detainee fights for life in ICU

Detained peasant leader Joseph Canlas is in an intensive care unit (ICU) of a Pampanga hospital, suspected to have suffered a stroke and contracted the dreaded coronavirus disease in jail.

Canlas’ daughter Jenette announced his father was rushed to a hospital on Sunday morning after complaining of breathing difficulties as early as Saturday afternoon.

The elder Canlas experienced breathing difficulties and stuttering speech on Saturday afternoon and his family pleaded to jail authorities to bring him to a hospital.

He was eventually admitted to the hospital’s ICU while awaiting his Covid-19 test result.

Canlas was apprehended by the Central Luzon Criminal Investigation and Detection Group unit of the Philippine National Police (CIDG-PNP) last March 30 in what the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said is a questionable arrest using a defective search warrant.

The police said guns and explosives were found at the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) staff house where Canlas was staying.

Canlas, a prominent land reform activist and peasant leader, is AMGL chairperson and KMP vice chairperson.

“The extreme stress of his unjust detention and cramped jail conditions led to the deterioration of Canlas’ health. He has hypertension and diabetes, both comorbidities of COVID-19,” the KMP said in a statement.

KMP demanded Canlas’ immediate release on humanitarian grounds as well as full medical attention until his recovery.

“This is an urgent matter of life and death and justice. The congested jail conditions will only worsen Canlas’ health,” the KMP said Sunday.

The group said the CIDG-PNP and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology JMP will be liable for any untoward incident that may befall Canlas under detention.

“Canlas does not even deserve a day in jail. The evidence and charges against him are all fabricated,” KMP said.

KMP said there are 3,500 reported Covid cases in BJMP facilities nationwide as of March 22.

Kapatid, the support group for families and friends of political prisoners, also called on the government and the trial court in charge of Canlas’ case to release the detainee, saying that he deserves to be proper taken care of by his family and be given full medical attention.

“Let him fight for his life without the burdens brought by his continued unjust imprisonment for planted firearms,” the group’s spokesperson Fidel Lim said.

“We renew our call to the Supreme Court to fast-track the release of sick and elderly prisoners like Canlas as they are at great risk from the upsurge of the deadly COVID-19,” Lim added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Restless night for rights defenders, activists

It had been a restless night for human rights defenders and activists who had been on alert against more police raids after the arrests of activists on Holy Tuesday, March 30.

“We are on alert tonight and expecting more raids in the offices of OLALIA-Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Bagong Alyansang Makabayan(Bayan)-Timog Katagaluganand Gabriela Southern Tagalog, all in Cabuyao, Laguna,” KMU’s regional chapter Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik) yesterday said.

 “Residents near the offices have seen police elements in full battle gear roving the areas near the offices,” the group added.

Pamantik’s alert status was announced after operatives of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided the abandoned office of its affiliate, the Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Engklabo (AMEN) in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna also on Tuesday.

As in almost all raids against activists throughout the country, the police alleged it found firearms and explosives in the property.

“Nagtanim ang mga ito (PNP-CIDG) ng tila isang ‘armory’ ng mga baril, granada, bala at bomba,” KMU said after the Laguna raid. (The police again planted a seeming armory of guns, grenades, ammunitions and bombs.)

The raid came after the Bloody Sunday killings in four Southern Tagalog provinces last March 6, and just two days after the death of Dandy Miguel, Pamantik vice-chairperson.

It also followed the raid and arrests of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon chairperson and concurrent Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas vice chairperson Jose Canlas in Pampanga and Bayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson and KMU vice chairperson for Central Luzon Florentino “Pol” Viuya in Tarlac on Tuesday.

Karapatan paralegal May Arcilla was arrested along with Viuya after vigorously protesting so-called irregularities in the operation.

As in the Sta. Rosa raid, the police alleged it found guns and explosives in the houses it raided in Central Luzon.

The “huli” (arrest, capture) week actually started in Bulacan province last Friday with the arrest of Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Pandi chapter chairperson Connie Opalla by the police.

The police have yet to announce Opalla’s whereabouts despite announcing her arrest on its Facebook page.

“Huli Week” had been a moniker invented by Karapatan human rights workers since the time of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to describe the spike in the number of arrests of activists during Holy Week.

The PNP is known to favor the filing of so-called trumped up charges such as illegal possession of firearms and explosives, an unbailable criminal offense, to frustrate human rights lawyers from securing the victims’ early release. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘Huli week’ in full swing in Central Luzon; 3 arrested on Holy Tuesday

[UPDATED, 2:47 PM] “Huli” (arrest, capture) Week is in full swing in Central Luzon in the middle of Holy Week as at least three human rights defenders have been arrested and activists’ offices and houses were raided this morning, Holy Tuesday.

Alerts by various organizations said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya was arrested by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in his residence in Barangay Anupul, Bamban, Tarlac.

The alerts said Viuya was presented with a warrant of arrest but no details of his alleged offense had been provided.

Viuya is also Kilusang Mayo Uno vice chairperson for Central Luzon and member of its National Council.

Bagong alyansang Makabayan-Gitnang Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya. (Bayan image)

Reportedly arrested with Viuya was Karapatan-Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla.

“As Karapatan paralegal, she fearlessly questioned the validity of the search warrant served and was arrested for speaking her mind. She is currently detained at Camp Macabulos, Tarlac City,” Karapatan said.

In Sapang Maisac, Mexico, Pampanga, the police arrested Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) chairperson Jose Canlas.

In a CLTV 36 interview, AMGL staffer Joyce said the police ordered them to get out of their hut, entered and later claimed to have found a .45 handgun inside.

Joyce said Canlas, concurrent Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas national vice chairperson, was never known to have owned a gun.

She added that Canlas protested his arrest as the search warrant belatedly presented by the police bore the name of Joseph Canlas, instead of his real name Jose.

The police responded by forcibly taking Canlas down to the ground that alarmed even children of the five-house compound, Joyce revealed.

Joyce added that monies amounting to at least P20,000 and other items have gone missing after the police operation.

Canlas had been taken to Camp Olivas in San Fernando City, PNP-Region 3 headquarters.

A source said activists in other provinces are also being arrested this morning, declining to name the other police targets pending verified reports from human rights organizations in the region.

The police had been known to conduct arrests of activists during Holy Week, taking advantage of lulls in activities of progressive organizations.  

Karapatan Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla (Karapatan image)

‘Surface Opalla’

Meanwhile, urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) demanded that the police surface its Pandi chapter leader Connie Opalla who was arrested last Friday in the Central Luzon province of Bulacan.

Opalla, Kadamay said, was able to inform her colleagues after her arrest she would be held at the San Rafael police station in Bulacan.

The PNP however has subsequently denied being in custody of Opalla despite already announcing her arrest on its Central Luzon Regional Command Facebook page.

The police said Opalla’s lawyers and family are being given the run-around by the police as her whereabouts is being withheld, along with other documents needed to secure her bail.

“They are hiding her from us, her family and lawyers. After two days of being incommunicado, she should be categorized as a missing person already,” Kadamay secretary general Mimi Doingo said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(This is a developing story. Click for updates.)

Groups welcome Senate bill criminalizing red-tagging

Several groups welcomed a bill filed by Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon criminalizing red-tagging, promising to strongly lobby for its passage.

Both the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said they support the measure that seeks to penalize the act.

“This is a very welcome development in the people’s fight against State-sponsored red-tagging and human rights violations. We are hoping for the approval of this measure. Farmers will lobby for the passage of this bill,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said.  

The farmers’ group said it is being consistently red-tagged by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and its Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.

“Many of our leaders and members who were subjected to red-tagging were either extrajudicially-killed, illegally arrested, and charged with trumped-up non-bailable charges. Red-tagging kills. We want masterminds of red-tagging to be held accountable accordingly,” Ramos said.

In a separate statement, the NUJP said it also welcomes Drilon’s bill seeking to define and penalize red-tagging by State actors.

“These dangerous accusations, when done by state agents as part of a so-called counter-insurgency program, are no longer private opinions and conspiracy theories but official actions and policy,” the NUJP said.

Like the KMP, NUJP has been openly and repeatedly accused by government officials of fronting for the Communist Party of the Philippines, an allegation it has consistently denied.

“Red-tagging has often led to harassment and violence against its targets and NUJP welcomes moves that will protect journalists from these threats and hold those making them to account,” it said. Filed on Wednesday, March 24, Drilon’s measure seeks to define red-tagging as “the act of labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping or caricaturing individuals, groups or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning subversives, communists or terrorists, or as part of counter-insurgency, or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary or military personnel.”

The Senate Bill also seeks a penalty of 10 years imprisonment and perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office for violators. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Laborer rebuffs PNP’s order to spy on KMU; reveals assassination plot vs NDFP consultants

A construction worker said police intelligence operatives tried recruiting him to spy on labor federation Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and help in the planned abduction and assassination of remaining National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultants.

The laborer however rejected the offer and reported the incident to his former KMU colleagues.

James (an alias), a construction laborer and a former KMU driver, said two men who identified themselves as Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group members allegedly tried to intimidate and bribe him agree to be a police spy on KMU.

In a press conference, James said he was fetched by barangay security personnel (tanod) and was taken to Barangay Banaba Hall in San Mateo, Rizal last Friday, March 19, on the pretense he needed to secure a permit for a construction project.

The victim was working at a renovation project at KMU secretary for human rights Eleanor de Guzman’s house at the time of the incident.

At the barangay hall, he was isolated in a room with the two police personnel who ordered him to return as KMU staff driver and spy for the police.

Makipagtulungan kang maayos, pagkatapos naman ay peace-peace tayo. ‘Yang pagtatrabaho mo, kayang-kaya naming ibigay ang pangangailangan mo, basta bumalik ka lang sa Balai para mag-spy,” the alleged police officers told James. (You cooperate properly, and then there would be peace between us. We will give you what you need as long as you return to Balai to spy for us.)

Balai is KMU’s national headquarters formally known as Balai Obrero (Workers’ House).

The unnamed officers told James they are particularly interested with de Guzman and her father, NDFP peace consultant Rafael Baylosis.

Assassination of peace consultants

The police told James they intend to abduct and assassinate all remaining NDFP peace consultants.

“Matagal na naming kayong minamanmanan, buti nga kami ang kausap niyo kasi may isang unit naming ang dudukot sa inyo,” James quoted the officers as saying. (We have you under surveillance for a long time. You should be grateful it is us who are talking to you because we have one unit tasked to abduct all of you.)

“Uubusin daw nila ang mga consultant,” he added. (They said they will finish off all consultants.)

James said the two officers took photos of him and demanded to reveal his phone number.

He also noticed at least eight other men on board motorcycles and heavily-tinted cars who followed him to his next destination. All vehicles did not have license plates, he added.

De Guzman and KMU national chairperson Elmer Labog said they condemn the police’s “criminal act” as direct and dangerous attacks against labor unionists and other human rights defenders.

The KMU said they are reporting the incident to the Commission on Human Rights to ask for an investigation.

Labog also called on the Supreme Court, the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Justice to use their powers to put a stop to the killings and unjust arrests of workers and human rights defenders. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Another activist arrested with same warrant, same allegation and same judge

A second unionist was arrested on Thursday, March 4, with a search warrant of the same allegation and from the same judge, leading a human rights organization to ask if the country’s courts have become factories of “bogus search warrants.”

Lakas ng Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda and Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Enklabo member Arnedo Laguinias was arrested at his house in Barangay Pulong, Sta. Rosa, Laguna by Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) operatives.

Like Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees National Council member Ramir Corcolon who was arrested at 4:30 AM at his home in San Pablo City, Laguna yesterday, Laguinias is alleged to have illegally possessed a rifle grenade.

Instead of rifle grenades, however, the police claimed they found identical .45 caliber handguns at both raids.

Laguinias was an illegal surveillance, harassment and red-tagging victim of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict last year that alleged the unionist is a high-ranking official of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army, human rights group Karapatan Southern Tagalog said

Laguinias and Corcolon are detained at the PNP-CIDG Southern Luzon headquarters at Camp Vicente Lim in Canlubang, Laguna.

The search warrant used to raid the unionist’s home was also issued by Sta. Cruz (Laguna) Regional Trial Court (RTC) Presiding Judge Divinagracia Bustos-Ongkeko.

‘Factories of bogus search warrants’

Karapatan said the Judge and her Court are “notorious” for issuing “bogus search warrants.”

Sta. Cruz (Laguna) Regional Trial Court Judge Divinagracia Burgos-Ongkeko delivering a speech before the Laguna Provincial Police office. (Photo from Judge Burgos-Ongkeko’s Facebook page)

The group likened Burgos-Ongkeko with fellow Sta. Cruz, Laguna Judge Cynthia Mariño-Ricablanca and Quezon City Regional Trial Presiding Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert as “factories” of orders that inevitably result in planted evidence.

Karapatan revealed that Mariño-Ricablanca have in the past issued invalid warrants against Calaca, Batangas  sugar cane farm workers who the police accused to have illegally possessed guns and explosives.

The charges against the farm workers were later dismissed because the search warrant, aside from its inherent irregularities, violated due process, the group said.

Burgos-Villavert’s search warrant against journalist Lady Ann Salem and labor union organizer Rodrigo Esparago was also dismissed by the Mandaluyong City RTC as it violated due process and inconsistencies in the testimonies provided by the police.

Karapatan accused Burgos-Villavert as the most notorious among the three, having issued the most warrants that arrested activists in Metro Manila and Negros island with the same allegations: illegal possession of guns and explosives.

One such order by Burgos-Villavert resulted in last year’s arrest of women’s rights activist Reina Mae Nasino who was seven months pregnant when Bagong Alyansang Makabayan’s Tondo, Manila office was raided by the same police unit: the CIDG.

Nasino was forced to give birth while in custody, but was denied the chance to nurse her infant.

The child’s death became an international scandal because of the “inhumane” manner jail guards conducted his internment.

Karapatan said it appears that some judges have become accomplices in the Rodrigo Duterte’s “witch hunt” against activists. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Why Illegal Possession of Firearms and Explosives is the Usual Charge Against Activists

By Atty. Edre U. Olalia

= = = = = = =

On International Human Rights Day yesterday, December 10, the Philippine National Police (PNP) was on a spree, arresting journalist Lady Ann Salem and six trade union organizers. The PNP’s Criminal Investigation and Detection group said the raids were against a crime syndicate in possession of many guns, ammunition and explosives.

Curiously and ironically, those detained are human rights defenders. They have never figured in any crime but are, without exception, mere activists. The search warrants also came from Quezon City Regional Trial Court executive judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert who has repeatedly issued warrants that resulted in raids of offices and houses of activists throughout the country. All were charged with the same offense of illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Deaths have also resulted from such raids, including the infant River Nasino who was born in detention and yanked away from his mother even when he contracted a life-threatening disease.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers president Edre U. Olalia explains why the police actions are not crime solving and prevention as it claims but are political acts that persecute citizens and violate human rights.

= = = = = = =

1. Search warrants can be procured by going through the motions and by mere presentation even under oath of supposed witnesses from the authorities to claim that such materiel are supposedly in the possession of those to be arrested.

2. It is easy to plant these materiel whose possession are monopolized by the police and military especially if done at dawn or night and when the arrested persons are first segregated, controlled or neutralized and have no chance to prevent or witness such anomaly.

3. The routinary legal presumption of regularity in the performance of official duty is always invoked against serious claims that these are planted and irregular.

4. Possession of explosives is normally a non-bailable offense so you rot in jail meantime and need to go through a rigorous process over time to prove that the evidence of your guilt is not strong for you to avail of bail if you are lucky.

5. It is easier to convict on mere testimonial evidence that is rehearsed and developed over the years to “prove” mere possession of a thing and its “chain of custody.”

6. It fits into the false political narrative of the State that legal activists have links with the armed underground movement and are, therefore, “terrorists.”

7. It demonizes legal activists as plain criminals who are armed and dangerous and not fighting for a legitimate cause and issues of public interest through non-armed means and fora.

8. It sends a clear message of threat and intimidation that you can be next even if the first and last time you held a gun was when you were playing cops and robbers during childhood.

9. The authorities want to parade that – with all the arsenal of various firearms, explosives and ammunitions supposedly going around and purportedly being kept by open, legal and visible activists – they are incompetent, inutile and ineffective to keep “peace and order” with all its vast powers, draconian laws and measures and the strictures of the pandemic.

10. They don’t bloody care because they believe they are invincible and that there is forever apart from endless love. #

‘I’ll sue you,’ Colmenares warns people behind trafficking raps over ‘missing’ youth

By Visayas Today

Former Bayan Muna congressman Neri Colmenares said he would sue those responsible for filing kidnapping and child abuse charges against him and several others over allegedly “missing” youth activists after the Department of Justice issued subpoenas for the respondents.

While acknowledging he had yet to read the complaint, filed by the Major Crimes Investigation Unit of the police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Colmenares said it was a “foregone conclusion” that “I’ll file a criminal case” against those responsible for filing the complaint and “witnesses who commit perjury.”

“We will not take this sitting down,” he said.

The complaint alleges violations of: 
• Republic Act No. 9208 or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 
• RA 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Child Abuse, Exploitation, and Discrimination Act
• RA 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and other Crimes against Humanity

Aside from Colmenares, the named respondents are Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, Anakbayan president Vencer Crisostomo and secretary general Einstein Recedes; Anakbayan members Charie del Rosario, Bianca Gacos, Jayroven Villafuente Balais, and Alex Danday; and, ironically, former Akbayan congressman Tom Villarin, who belongs to a party list group that is known to have been at odds with the organizations his co-accused belong to.

The complaint also seeks to include “all other officers” of Kabataan and “all other members” of Anakbayan in the complaint as “John and Jane Does.”

The case stems from the complaints of parents who claimed their children left home and went missing after being recruited into activist groups.

Among the complainants in the case is Relissa Lucena, whose daughter, 18-year old senior high school student and Anakbayan member Alicia, belied the claim that she was missing or had been kidnapped.

Alicia, who stressed it was her choice to join the youth group, said she left home in July after her parents refused to let her out and instead took her to Camp Aguinaldo, military headquarters, in hopes of making her “normal.”

Colmenares, who learned of the subpoena on Tuesday, August 20, while visiting Bacolod, dismissed the complaint.

“It is clear I have committed no crime, much less trafficking. This is a trumped up harassment charge,” he said.

(Images provided by the NUPL show pages from the CIDG complaint)

The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, which Colmenares chairs, also condemned the “false charge.”

“How in heaven’s name could someone like Neri be even remotely involved, connected or liable for such inane and contrived shotgun charges that have been debunked? Totally absurd,” NUPL president Edre Olalia said in a statement.

Olalia saw a more sinister pattern, linking the complaint to a perceived government crackdown on critics.

“Make no mistake about it: they are lining and rounding up the most voluble and visible people who stand in the way and who fight back against repression and injustice,” he said. #