MILITANT leaders in Negros Occidental are expecting a crackdown on activists and development workers following the arrest of a suspected New People’s Army (NPA) leader in Bacolod City Tuesday, February 7.
Rogina Quilop, 49, was on her way home when she was arrested. She was served a warrant for murder after she was tagged in the ambush of an Army lieutenant in 2010.
Cadiz City Regional Trial Court Judge Renato Muñez issued the warrant of arrest on September 11, 2011.
Captain Eduardo Precioso, public information officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade of the Philippine Army, said Quilop, or Rowena Navarro, is believed to be the deputy secretary of the regional finance bureau of Komiteng Rehiyong-Negros.
Her arrest is seen to affect the operations of the NPA in the region since she holds a vital role in the rebel movement, Precioso said.
“She is believed to be the collector of extortion money in Negros. They want her out (of police custody) because it’s hard to train a replacement because others won’t give money if they don’t know the collector. It will affect their logistical support,” he said, as he urged the public not to give in to the demands of the communist rebels.
Precioso said the suspect was committed to the Metro Bacolod District Jail-Female Dormitory in Barangay Handumanan on February 8.
He reiterated that even if the warrant identified Quilop as Navarro, both are one and the same.
Quilop was also arrested in 2010 for arson, but was freed after she posted bail.
She told Bombo Radyo Bacolod that her arrest is a harassment and a violation of human rights, as she was not even given the opportunity to respond to the accusation.
Quilop denied involvement in the murder of the said Army official, adding she is a non-government organization worker, and not a member of the NPA.
Expect more arrests
Christian Tuayon, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros, and Clarizza Dagatan, secretary-general of Karapatan-Negros, said in a press conference at the Negros Press Club that they are expecting more arrests and harassments of militant leaders and development workers in the coming days.
They condemned the arrest of Quilop, claiming she is not a communist rebel, but an administrative officer of Center for People's Resources and Services, a Negros-based non-government organization conducting relief missions.
Tuayon said her arrest could result in widespread human rights violations because the government wants to neutralize and paralyze the progressive leaders.
He said it’s been the practice of the government to run after progressive leaders and file trumped up charges.
“Negros is becoming a laboratory for the filing of trumped up charges,” he added.
Tuayon said they will continue to push for the peace process even after President Rodrigo Duterte terminated the negotiations between the government and the communist rebels.
Singson called the arrest of Quilop a “systematic attack of the state against progressive leaders and development workers.”
She is calling on the government to “stop the political prosecution” of activists and development workers.
Chief Superintendent Renato Gumban, acting director of Police Regional Office-Negros Island Region, said that progressive leaders who have warrants of arrest will be arrested if authorities will chance upon them.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said everybody will lose if the peace negotiations will not continue.
“Our peace talks are progressing. I hope they could find ways to save it,” he added.