Anakpawis condemns tyrannical mass arrest of activists in Negros and Manila, calls for their immediate release
Manila, Philippines – Former Anakpawis Party-list lawmaker Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao condemned to the highest degree the tyrannical mass arrest of more than 60 activists, including the group’s former fourth nominee John Milton “Ka Butch” Lozande, 6 minors, by elements of the police and military in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental yesterday evening.
He also condemned the arrest of Gabriela National Capital Region Spokesperson Cora Agovida and her husband, Kadamay urban poor activist Michael Bartolome, by the police early morning yesterday in Paco, Manila.
Early evening yesterday, elements of Philippine National Police (PNP), PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) simultaneously raided the offices of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), Kilusang Mayo Uno and Gabriela via a dubious search warrant issued by Quezon City judge Jocelyn Burgos-Villavert. She was also the judge that issued the warrant used to arrest Agovida in Manila.
Casilao who is also the National Vice-Chairperson of Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA)and co-convenor of Defend Negros #StopTheAttacks alliance closely works with the NFSW. Lozande, who was arrested, is the Secretary-General of NFSW, current UMA National Council member and former Secretary-General of UMA. He regularly participated in protests in Manila and was chosen as the fourth nominee during the Anakpawis National Convention in September 2018 held in Quezon City.
Identified by the Defend Negros among those arrested were:
- John Milton “Ka Butch” Lozande, former fourth nominee of Anakpawis Party-list and Secretary-General of National Federation of Sugaw Workers (NFSW);
- Danny Tabura, Anakpawis Party-list Negros Regional Coordinator and NFSW leader;
- Aldrin Dela Cerna, organizer of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Negros (KMP Negros);
- Noli Rosales, labor leader of Kilusang Mayo Uno;
- Romulo Bito-on, Jr, leader of Bayan Muna Party-list;
- and his wife Mermalyn;
- May-anne Krueger of Paghimutad Media group in Negros
- Proceso Quiatchon, human rights defender of Karapatan-Negros; and
- members of Teatro Obrero and Teatro Bungkal cultural group.
“We call for the immediate and unconditional releases of the arrested activists in Bacolod City and Manila. This is clearly a tyrannical measure against critics of the Duterte regime, who is weaponizing the use of warrants against activists,” Casilao said.
He slammed it as a tactical trademark of Police Brigadier General Debold Sinas, who was the implementor of Oplan Sauron local counter-insurgency program in Negros that brought about the mass killings and arrests of peasants and activists in December 2018, and March 30. He is now the PNP National Capital Region Chief who is carrying out Implementation Plan Kalasag (Implan Kalasag), or the counter-insurgency program targeting activists in Metro Manila.
“The workflow of Duterte’s tyranny is clear, from the local programs, enabled by his issuances such as the Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70. This is Duterte’s attack on activists, on rule of law, on freedom and democracy,” he slammed.
Memorandum Order 32, issued by President Rodrigo Duterte in October 2018, is the order to target activists in Negros, Samar and Bicol, while the EO 70, in December 2018 formed that National Task Force against counter-insurgency who is crafting the campaign of attacks, such as red-tagging and filing of trumped up charges against activists.
Casilao urged the democratic sectors to mobilize against the tyrant’s attacks against activists and join the protest in front of Camp Crame in Quezon City.
“This assault on democracy, due process and rule of law, will never be exclusively used against activists, but also against critics and opposition. This is a dress rehearsal for an absolutist rule where dissent is reprised with incarceration or murder. If Filipinos do not rise up against this template attack, this will be used against anyone. We urge everyone to uphold freedom and democracy, and hold the tyrant Duterte accountable for trampling of people’s basic human rights,” he ended. ###