Journalist, human rights defenders arrested in Tacloban early morning raids


A journalist and four other human rights defenders were arrested in Tacloban City early Friday morning, February 7, raising cries of condemnation from media and human rights organizations.

Eastern Vista reporter and Aksyon Radyo – Tacloban DYVL 819 kHz broadcaster Frenchie Mae Cumpio was arrested at the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) staff house in Barangay Calanipawan in Tacloban City along with RMP staff Mariell Domanquill.

Guns were planted in their rooms, human rights group Karapatan said.

The RMP is the mission partner of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.

Cumpio acts as Eastern Vista executive director, Altermidya correspondent in Tacloban City and an active member of the Philippine chapter of the International Association of Women in Radio and Television.

She co-hosts the long-running weekly DYVL radio show Lingganay Han Kamotuoran produced by the Promotion of Church People’s Response in Eastern Visayas.

Simultaneous with the raid on the RMP house, the police led by a certain Lt. Col. Pedere raided the Katungod Sinirangang Bisayas office where Karapatan National Council member for Eastern Visayas Alexander Philip Abinguna, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) -Tacloban’s Mira Legion and People’s Surge spokesperson Marissa Calbajao were arrested.

The Katungod office in Fatima Village, Bañezville, Brgy. 77, Tacloban City is shared with Bayan and peasant organization Sagupa.

Calbajao’s one-year old baby was also taken to the police station. Her organization, People’s Surge, is a Leyte and Samar-based organization advocating for genuine rehabilitation for Supertyphoon Yolanda victims.

The five are being charged with illegal possession of firearms and are detained at the Palo Philippine National Police (PNP) office, Altermidya said.

Media groups up in arms

“We condemn the Leyte police and state forces for this latest attack on Eastern Vista, our fellow community journalist Cumpio, and against people’s groups in Leyte. We demand their immediate and safe release, and call on the public to denounce this latest attempt to silence and intimidate independent media and human rights defenders,” Altermidya said in its alert.

The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also condemned the police for its arrest of Cumpio and demanded her immediate release.

“We offer our full support to Cumpio and our colleagues in Eastern Vista and Lingganay han Kamatuoran and call on the community of independent Filipino journalists to close ranks with us,” the NUJP said in a statement.

Before her arrest, Cumpio had been the subject of continued harassment and intimidation by men and at least one woman believed to be state security agents who had been tailing her around since September last year.

In the most recent incident on January 31, an unidentified man described by witnesses as tall and sporting a military-style haircut, visited the Eastern Vista office bearing a flower bouquet and showing a photo of Cumpio as he asked residents for her whereabouts.

On December 13, Cumpio reported that motorcycle-riding men she believed with military were tailing her around Tacloban City.

The arrest of Cumpio is reminiscent of that of Anne Krueger of the Negros-based alternative media outfit Paghimud-os, who was among the more than 50 persons arrested in simultaneous raids by the military and police on the offices of legal organizations long accused by the government of being “fronts” of the communist rebel movement, the NUJP said.

Krueger had been temporarily released after posting bail on similar illegal possession of firearms, ammunition, and explosives.

Cumpio’s arrest is clearly part of government’s crackdown against not only these supposed communist fronts but all critical media, the NUJP said.

Since last year, the government has no longer bothered to hide the fact that the critical media have been included in their list of “enemies of the state,” the NUJP added.

“The arrests of Cumpio and, before her, Krueger, the red-tagging of the NUJP and other press freedom groups and advocates, the continued attempts to shut down Rappler, ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, are all part of this government’s efforts to silence the free exchange of ideas and co-opt media into mouthing only what it allows,” the NUJP said.

“Let us thwart this government’s attempts to muzzle freedom of the press and expression, without which democracy cannot survive. Let us send out the message that we are free not because anyone allows us to be but because we insist on being free,” the media group added.

Gestapo-like raids

Karapatan said the raids, conducted between 1:00am to 2:30am, were “Gestapo-like” as the activists were sleeping when the police forcibly entered the Katungod-Bayan-Sagupa offices.  

“They were brought out of their rooms and minutes after, at least two guns, 1 machine gun and materials for an improvised explosive device were planted in the rooms,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement.

As in the case with the RMP staff house raid, the warrants were only shown to those arrested after they were accosted, Palabay added.

“Today’s arrests and raids should enrage should who stand for civil liberties and human rights, social justice and lasting peace in the country. We are calling on all advocates and communities to defend the rights of defenders against these attacks by the Duterte administration,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan to field Neri in next year’s Senate race

The Makabayang Koalisyon ng Mamamayan o MAKABAYAN held its fourth National Convention at the  Quezon City Sports Club last September 25, unanimously voting to again field former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmanares in the 2019 Senate race.

Themed “Bagong Pulitika, Demokrasya Hindi Diktadurya,” Makabayan said it aims to win not only in the next elections but also defeat Rodrigo Duterte’ s looming dictatorship and tyranny.

MAKABAYAN also presented nominees from its member parties—Gabriela Womens Party, ACT Teachers Party, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Kabataan.

It also announced Newly formed member parties—Manggagawa Party, Aksyon Health Workers Party, and Peoples Surge Party.  (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas)

PODCAST: Concha Araneta Bocala on genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization

Ang panayam kay Concha Araneta-Bocala, Consultant ng National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) ay bahagi ng programa sa radyo sa panahon ng Kampuhan ng mga Lakyabanis ng Visayas. Ginanap ito noong Disyembre 7, 2016 sa Polytechnic University of the Philippines.

Sina Raymund Villanueva ng Kodao Productions at Ronalyn Olea ng at Vice President ng International Association of Women in Radio and Television – Philippines ang mga tagapagpadaloy ng programa sa ilalim ng proyektong Radyo Tacloban.

Yolanda survivors call out Duterte in Mendiola rally

Supertyphoon Yolanda survivors from Eastern Visayas trooped to Mendiola last November 28 to challenge President Rodrigo Duterte to make good on his promise of change.

The Lakbayan ng Visayas (Caravan of the Visayas) arrived in Metro Manila in several buses demanding justice for the previous administration’s failure to provide them relief since 2013.

“Eastern Visayas should have been rehabilitated properly right after what was called the ‘strongest typhoon in history.’ But after three years, we continue to suffer the poverty and hunger due to the governments’ criminal neglect,” People’s Surge chairperson Dr. Efleda Bauista said.

“We are not only here to call for justice for the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda, but also to demand that president Duterte fulfill his promise to help us,” Bautista said.

“They say that poverty has gone down in Eastern Visayas, when the truth is the exact opposite,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Eastern Visayas secretary-general Rey Peralta for his part said.

“Even today, the farmers from the region remain unable to put food on the table and send their children to school because there are still no decent jobs to be found in Eastern Visayas,” Peralta added.


The caravan also called for an end to militarization in the region, citing the military’s gross disrespect of the ongoing respective ceasefire declarations by the Duterte government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

“Eastern Visayans, already victimized by the typhoon and corruption, consistently get harrassed by the military,” Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo said.

“The military in the region even go as far as saying that the ceasefire is only for the NPA, and not them. They refuse to leave the communities and continue to rob and harrass them,” Crisostomo added.

Marcos burial

In Mendiola, the caravan participants condemned the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“The unrepentant Marcoses do not deserve any ounce of rehabilitation. Instead, it is the people of Eastern Visayas who rightly deserve it,” Bautista said.

They further encouraged people to support the upcoming Lakbayan and the people of the Visayas in their struggle.

“We endured the hardships of leaving our families and journeying to Metro Manila to make our demands heard. We hope the people would listen,” Peralta said.

“Before we leave the capital, we expect the Duterte government to provide us with a concrete answer to our problems,” Peralta added.

The caravan participants are staying at the Mabini Campus of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa where are staying for the duration of the Lakbayan. # (Abril Layad B. Ayroso)


Mga biktima ng bagyong Yolanda, Ruby at Senyang, tumungo sa Malakanyang

Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims traveled from Eastern Visayas and Panay to gather in Mendiola, Manila. They voiced all their complaints to Aquino government for neglecting their responsibilities in helping them.

Malacanang, Manila
May 14, 2015