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Kwento ng ina ng inarestong menor de edad sa Bacolod

Ibinahagi ni Jingjing (hindi tunay na pangalan) ng kanyang karanasan matapos hulihin ang kanyang 15 anyos na anak habang nag-eensayo para sa isang pagtatanghal. Kasama ang kanyang anak sa 57 na dinakip sa ginawang raid ng mga pulis at sundalo noong Oktubre 31 sa Bacolod City na ayon sa mga progresibong grupo ay malaking crackdown ng gubyerno laban sa mga aktibista.

Nagbigay-payo din sa mga kabataan at magulang si Jingjing na lubos ang pagsuporta sa ginagawa ng anak sa na kasapi ng isang pang-kulturang grupo. (Background music: Lovers by David Fesliyan Salin ni: Reylan Vergara/ Karapatan Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Mga inaresto sa Bacolod, lalo pang pinahirapan matapos dakpin

Isinalaysay ni Jefer Alipo-on, 23 anyos, ang kanilang naging karanasan nang sila ay inaresto noong Oktubre 31 sa ginawang raid ng mga pulis sa opisina ng Bayan Muna sa Bacolod City. Isiniwalat ni Alipo-on sa bidyo na ito ang karagdagang tortyur sa kanila ng mga pulis matapos silang dakpin.

Matapos ang halos isang linggo, isa si Jefer sa nakalayang 11 miyembro ng Teatro Obrero, kasama ang 21 na mga manggagawa ng Ceres Bus Line noong Nobyembre 6. Subalit mayroon pang siyam na nakakulong at sinampahan ng anila’y gawa-gawang kaso na iligal na pag-iingat ng baril at granada. (Music: Tangerine Dream Valley of Sun Bidyo ni: Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)

Activists vow legal pushback vs state forces

By Visayas Today

BACOLOD CITY–Those responsible for the October 31 mass arrest in Bacolod City, from state security personnel to the judge who issued the search warrants, should expect a wave of countercharges to hold them accountable, activist groups have vowed.

“We will make sure there will be countercharges,” Bacolodnon Neri Colmenares, who chairs the Bayan Muna party-list and used to represent it in Congress, told a press conference Thursday, November 7.

In all, the joint police and Army units under the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict that carried out the raids on three offices and a private residence in Bacolod City arrested and detained 57 persons, among them a dozen minors.

They claimed to have recovered more than 30 firearms and some explosives from the offices of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, women’s organization Gabriela – both in Barangay Bata – and the National Federation of Sugar Workers in front of the Libertad market, and the home of Romulo and Mermalyn Bito-on in Barangay Taculing.

The security forces said the offices, particularly the compound that houses the office of Bayan and other groups, were being used to train “recruits,” including minors, of the New People’s Army.

However, on November 6, 32 of those arrested – 21 laid off workers of Vallacar Transit who were consulting the Kilusang Mayo Uno and 11 members of cultural group Teatro Obrero, all arrested at the Bayan office – were released after the city prosecutor dropped the charges against them.

Only 11 persons remain in detention, seven of them facing non-bailable charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Colmenares said the release of the 32 “proves the falsity of the charges” that those arrested were rebels and that the offices were training facilities.

He said those they intend to charge, both before trial courts and the Office of the Ombudsman, include the “generals, colonels,” and enlisted personnel of police and Army units that carried out the raids, prosecutors, judges who issue “fake” warrants, and the “false witnesses” on whose testimonies the warrants were based.’

The search warrants covering the Bacolod raids were all issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert. She also issued the warrants that led to the arrests of two other activists in Escalante City and at least five others in Manila around the same time as the Bacolod raids.

While there is a special rule issued by the Supreme Court allowing the RTC executive judges of Manila and Quezon City to issue warrants for areas outside their jurisdiction, activists accuse Villavert of abusing this privilege and issuing “wholesale” warrants that abet human rights violations.

Colmenares said among the charges the security forces can expect are those related to their alleged “planting” of evidence and violations of the anti-torture law. #

32 nabbed in Bacolod raids freed

By Visayas Today

In what human rights advocates said was a clear victory and an indictment of government’s ham-fisted efforts to stifle dissent, 32 of 57 persons arrested and detained following simultaneous raids on what authorities claimed were communist rebel safehouses in Bacolod City on October 31 were released on Wednesday, November 6, after prosecutors cleared them.

Those who walked out of detention at the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office were 21 laid-off workers of Vallacar Transit Inc., which operates the Cere Bus line, and 11 members of the cultural group Teatro Obrero.

All of them were arrested at the office of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Barangay Bata where authorities claimed to have recovered 32 guns.

A number of minors who were also rehearsing with Teatro Obrero at the Bayan office had been released earlier.

Wednesday’s releases left only 11 persons in detention and facing criminal prosecution.

Seven of them are charged for non-bailable offenses:
1. Cheryl Catalogo
2. Karina Mae Dela Cerna
3. Albert Dela Cerna
4. Noly Rosales
5. Proceso Quiatzon
6. Romulo Bito-on
7. Mermalyn Bito-on

The Bito-on couple, who were nabbed during a raid on their home, are accused of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

The others, who were arrested in the raid on the Bayan office, were charged with illegal possession of multiple firearms.

Those charged with illegal possession of firearms, a bailable offense, are:
1. Anne Krueger
2. John Milton Lozande
3. Danilo Tabora
4. Roberto Lachica

Krueger, a community journalist from alternative media outfit Paghimutad, was arrested at the Bacolod office of women’s organization Gabriela, from where authorities claimed to have recovered two .38 caliber revolver and ammunition.

Lozande, secretary general of the National Federation of Sugar Workers, was also nabbed at the Bayan office, while Tabora and Lachica were at the NFSW office when it was raided.

Aside from the firearms and explosives charges, Lozande, Rosales, the Dela Cernas, who are father and daughter, Catalogo and Quiatzon are also set to be charged for human trafficking.

Immediately after the raids, a joint military and police operation under the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, the Army proclaimed a major victory and predicted the imminent destruction of the communist rebel movement on Negros.

The military had also claimed the offices of the organizations that were raided, particularly the Bayan office which occupies a large compound, were training facilities where the rebels were supposedly molding “child warriors.”

However, the organizations, all tagged as rebel “fronts,” denied the accusation and insisted the guns and explosives supposedly seized had been planted.

It turned out the laid-off Ceres workers were consulting Rosales, who heads the Kilusang Mayo Uno labor union, about their dismissal from work.

Members of the cultural group Teatro Obrero march out of the Negros Occidental Provincial Police Office where they had been detained since October 31, when they were arrested during simultaneous raids on the offices of activist organizations in Bacolod City. (Visayas Today photo)

The Teatro Obrero members, on the other hand, were rehearsing for a play, “Papa Isio,” about the legendary hero of the revolution against Spain and the war against the American colonizers, which they were supposed to have presented on November 5, which commemorates the liberation of Negros from the Spaniards.

Former Bayan Muna representative and Bacolod native Neri Colmenares, who visited the detainees with Representatives Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan Muna and Arelen Brosas of Gabriela Women’s Party, said he expected the release of the 32 detainees to substantially weaken the cases against the remaining 11.

“The release of the majority of the people arrested during the raids essentially means that the charges against them are not true,” he explained.

Incidentally, it took them more than two hours, or close to the end of visiting hours at 5 p.m., to gain access to the detainees and escort those to be released out of Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. after police guards refused them entry, saying they were under orders from Col. Romeo Baleros, the provincial director.

Lawyer Joemax Ortiz, counsel of the laid off transport workers, slammed authorities for arresting and forcing them to “go through the inconvenience of proving their innocence” when “they should have been released then and there because they were clearly innocent.”

Progressive groups said the Bacolod raids and the arrest of other activists in Manila signaled the start of a widespread crackdown on legal dissenters and critics of government. #

Karapatan warns of more raids of activists’ offices

By Len Olea/Bulatlat

MANILA — Human rights alliance Karapatan warned of more raids and arrests of activists in the coming hours or days.

In a Facebook post, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said that at least ten search warrants were issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert on October 30. Four of these warrants have been served so far.

Tondo, Manila – Search Warrant No. 5944
Paco, Manila – Search Warrant No. 5947
Escalante City, Negros Occidental – Search Warrant No. 5949
Bacolod City – Search Warrant No. 5953

“If all the search warrants issued by Judge Burgos-Villavert from No. 5944 to No. 5953 are offices and homes of members of people’s and human rights organizations, then we are looking at more raids in the coming hours or days,” Palabay noted.

Earlier today, policemen raided the office of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Manila in Tondo, Manila. Three activists were arrested and brought to the Manila Police District.

In a report, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Acting Director Brig. Gen. Debold Sinas said the Philippine National Police has been monitoring leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in Metro Manila. Sinas even units from the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters are monitoring these personalities in coordination with the military’s Joint Task Force-NCR.

Copy-paste warrants

Villavert has been criticized for issuing what Karapatan called as “copy-paste” search warrants that have led to the arrest of 57 activists in Negros island and five activists in Metro Manila.

Karapatan noted that Villavert was also the judge who issued warrants for the arrest of National Democratic Front peace consultants Vicente Ladlad, Rey Casambre, Estrelita Suaybaguio, Alexander and Winona Birondo, and Villamor couple.

In a statement, the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) also questioned Villavert’s actions.

Section 12 authorizes Executive Judges of Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City – as an exception to the general rule that it must be the court within whose territorial jurisdiction a crime was committed – to act upon applications filed by the police for search warrants involving, among others, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions.

The same circular requires that such applications shall be personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies. The Executive Judges are also required to keep a special docket book listing the details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued.

In this light, NUPL raised the following questions:

– Who, in the PNP, if any, endorsed the application for search warrant?

– Did the OIC PNP Chief personally endorse the application for search warrant?

– What was the basis, if any, of the application for search warrant to establish probable cause, considering serious and consistent assertions that the firearms and explosives were casually planted during the search?

– What was the basis of the honorable judge to grant the application and issue the search warrant?

– Did the honorable judge hear any witness, ask and document searching questions to personally determine the existence of probable cause as mandated by the Constitution and the Rules of Criminal Procedure?

– What was the reason behind and what really transpired during the meeting between the honorable judge and the police chief the day before the issuance of the warrant?

– Will the honorable judge make available at the proper forum and time the “special docket book,” which contains the details of the application for purposes of transparency and scrutiny?

– Why was there a need to apply for a search warrant in a faraway court when the same can be procured in a closer regional court without compromising secrecy and service of the warrant?

– Why is there seemingly a pattern to issue search warrants against political dissenters and critical groups from one and the exactly the same judge even if legally allowable?

“As the perceived bastion of fairness and justice, the Judiciary must relentlessly maintain its independence against actual or perceived interference and pressure exerted by other government branches. The bench and its members must not let themselves be used, or appear to be used, wittingly or unwittingly, as tools or minions of political persecution,” the NUPL said.

Progressive groups have called on the public to resist Duterte’s crackdown against critics. #

Pag-aresto sa maraming aktibista, kinondena

Mariing kinundena ng Bagong Alyansang Makabayan at iba pang aktibistang organisasyon ang pag-aresto sa mga kapwa nilang aktibista sa Lungsod ng Bacolod at Maynila kamakailan.

Nagprotesta sa harapan ng Camp Crame ang mga aktibista upang ipanawagan ang agarang pagpapalaya sa 57 indibidwal na anila’y iligal na inaresto. (Bidyo ni Jek Alcaraz/Kodao)

Kung saan bihasa ang PNP at AFP

” Kung ang mga magsasaka ay nagtatanim ng palay at butil, ang PNP at AFP ay bihasa sa tanim-bala, tanim-baril at tanim-explosives.”–Danilo Ramos, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas chairperson

21 sacked Ceres workers among Bacolod raid detainees – Bayan

By Visayas Today

Twenty-one laid off workers of the Ceres Bus line who were consulting a labor leader were among the 55 persons (not 62 as earlier reported by authorities) arrested and detained in simultaneous raids last week on four locations in Bacolod City that state forces claimed harbored communist rebels in training.

This was bared by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, which held a press conference in Metro Manila on Sunday, November 3, to denounce what it called the “tanim baril, tanim ebidensya” (planting of guns and evidence) tactics alleged used by the Army and police to justify the raids and boost their claims that those arrested are members of the rebel movement.

Also nabbed and detained were 25 youth, among them 13 minors, of the grassroots cultural group Teatro Obrero who were rehearsing for a presentation of their play “Papa Isio,” on the legendary Negros hero of the revolution against Spain and the war against America.

The youth and Ceres workers were among those arrested at a compound in a residential area of Barangay Bata that serves as the office of leftist party-list Bayan Muna and other organizations. The Army and police claim the place, where 30 firearms and explosives were supposedly recovered, served as a “training area” for rebel recruits, including potential “child warriors.”

Also netted in the raids were several officers of progressive groups like the National Federation of Sugar Workers, Kilusang Mayo Uno and Karapatan, all of which the government and state forces openly tag as “legal fronts” of the rebels, and Anne Krueger of the alternative media outfit Paghimutad, all of whom were accused of being part of the rebels’ regional leadership in Negros.

Aside from those arrested in the October 31 Bacolod raids, two succeeding raids in Escalante City on November 1 also led to the apprehension of NFSW staff Imelda Sultan and Ma. Lindy Perucho. As with the Bacolod operations, the Escalante raiders also claimed to have recovered weapons and explosives from the two women.

Also on October 31, Cora Agovida, the Metro Manila chairperson of Gabriela, and her husband Michael Tan Bartolome of the urban poor group Kadamay, were arrested and weapons and explosive also supposedly seized.

Incidentally, all the search warrants used as the basis for the raids were issued on October 30 by Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89.

Bayan, in a statement, said the raids signified “how low the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines have sunk in their effort to comply with Duterte’s orders to crack down on activists and political dissenters.”

It also noted the similarities in the operations:

1. Police gets a search warrant from a friendly, uninformed or intimidated judge, in this case from Quezon City which is outside the area of jurisdiction where the operation is made;
2. Occupants of the raided office or home are forced to go outside while police operatives, some in plain clothes, come in to search the area;
3. Occupants are then allowed back in only to discover illegal guns and explosives that police allege were found in their possession;
4. All persons are then arrested, detained and interrogated for prolonged periods while being denied their right to their lawyer or to be visited by relatives and friends. In the worst case like the Kanlaon, Manjuyod and Sta. Catalina incidents last March 30, 14 farmers were killed by police serving such search warrants;
5. To justify and muddle their illegal conduct, police and military officials go the rounds of the media vilifying the victims and claiming that these are members or supporters of the New People’s Army.

Bayan called the raids “a portent of worse things to come” and predicted “an escalation of the Duterte regime’s fascist crackdown on groups and individuals critical of the government, whose crime is to merely exercise their constitutional right to organize, express and seek redress for their grievances.” #

KMP: Guns, grenade in Bacolod raids are from the police

The firearms and explosives the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it confiscated from its raids of offices of activist organizations in Bacolod City Thursday night are recycled from their old anti-loose firearms operations, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said.

“The loose firearms are from their own ‘Tokhang Kontra Guinadili-an nga Pusil’ that were rounded in previous police operations,” KMP chairperson Danilo Ramos said in a statement, adding the “planting” of evidence is an old trick in the government’s playbook of political repression.

“Matagal nang ginagawa ng pulis itong tanim baril, tanim ebidensya,”  Ramos said. (The police had long been known to plant guns, plant evidence.)

Ramos pointed out to the video posted by community journalist Anne Krueger before she herself was arrested as proof the guns and grenades were from the composite police and military raiding teams.

In the video, Krueger, who was then at the Gabriela office, and a companion could be heard saying they do not own the bag police operatives said were found in a dark corner of the office’s backyard.

“We just cleaned that area and this is the first time we are seeing that bag. That is not ours, that is yours,” the unidentified Gabriela member said in the video.

Buking na buking na ang pulis at militar sa mga pagtatanim nila ng mga baril at ebidensya,” Ramos said in his statement. (The police and the military are notorious for planting guns as so-called evidence.)

The Bacolod PNP said it seized 14 caliber .45 pistols, nine caliber .38 revolvers, and a hand grenade from the local offices of Kilusang Mayo Uno, Gabriela, and Anakpawis in Barangay Bata, and two other offices, including the one occupied by the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Barangay 33.

“It was CIDG operatives who brought and planted the pistols, revolvers, submachine guns, ammo magazines, and live bullets. The Bacolod City Police Office and the PNP Regional Office-7 have an armory of almost 10,000 old and rusty firearms that they usually recycle for planting of evidences,” Ramos added.

Presidential Communications and Operations Office secretary Martin Andanar meanwhile defended the police and the military, denying the guns and grenade were planted.

“We assert that any allegations that the raids conducted were a form of harassment are simply false and we have hard evidence secured to prove our argument,” Andanar added.

Bayan Muna Party however said the judge who issued the search warrant used in the Bacolod raids must publicize her special docket book to prove that court procedures were strictly followed.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate pointed out that while Manila and Quezon City (QC) executive judges are authorized to issue warrants upon application by the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation, the applications “shall be personally endorsed by the heads of such agencies.”

“Did the OIC PNP Chief endorse it? Under the rules the judge must ensure that the application is endorsed by the head of agency, otherwise she would be violating the rules for issuing the warrant,” Zarate asked.

Bayan Muna chairperson Neri Colmenares also pointed that the executive judges “shall keep a special docket book listing names of Judges to whom the applications are assigned, the details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrants issued.”

“We are calling on the Supreme Court, especially Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta, to review the actions of the QC RTC Judge, and for the Supreme Court to provide mechanisms to discipline judges who abuse legal processes and merely accede to baseless applications for search warrant by state forces,” Colmenares said.

Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert of Branch 89 of the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City issued the search warrants. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

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.

Activists call for the immediate release of the arrested couple at the Manila Police District headquaters Thursday night. (Photo by J. Cuevas)

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)