Saturday, September 21, 2019

State forces arrest activist; group claims harassment

ANOTHER activist was reportedly arrested by the army’s 1st Special Forces Battalion (1SF) and detained in a military camp in Bukidnon, while the same troops allegedly tried to raid an office of a human rights group in Cagayan de Oro City on Wednesday, March 20.

According to the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT) in Northern Mindanao, they claimed that soldiers illegally arrested Mae Tugot, a member of women’s group Gabriela in Macabalan, this city, around 8 a.m., Wednesday.

The group said Tugot was brought and is currently detained at the 1SF detachment in Mampayag, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon.

They said it was the same military battalion that “forcibly” brought other Gabriela member Gloria Jandayan and her daughter Gleceria Balangiao on February 11, this year.

The two women activists were later branded by the military as “surrenderers”.

“This is yet another brazen attack against women rights defenders in Mindanao in the context of the ongoing Martial Law. We call on all peace and human rights advocates to condemn this attack and assist in the immediate release of Tugot,” the group said.

Volunteers and staff of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Northern Mindanao condemned the supposed attempt of, again, the same military troops, to raid their office in San Miguel Street, Camaman-an, late Wednesday.

Francisco Pagayaman, urban poor leader who was at the said office, said an undetermined number of soldiers surrounded the Bayan office and was looking for certain “Albert” whom they claimed as New People’s Army (NPA) rebel.

But, Pagayaman told the soldiers that they do not know the person they were looking for and that there is no “Albert” inside the office.

The Bayan staff did not allow the soldiers to enter the office unless they present either a search warrant or warrant of arrest.

“Wala mi kaila sa Albert nga ilang gipangita. Giingnan namo sila nga mokuha sa sila og warrant ayha sila mosulod sa office ug magdala sila og taga LGU nga mouban kung naa na silay court order nga mag-search,” he said.

(We did not know any Albert they were looking for. We told them to get a search warrant first before they could enter the office and bring someone from the local government unit, if they have a court order to search)

Pagayaman said the Bayan-Northern Mindanao office was temporarily made as headquarters for the senatorial campaign of Neri Colmenares and other pro-people party-lists.

“Nagpostering kagabii ang mga volunteers dihang ilang nabantayan nga gisundan sila sa mga sundalo. Gibabagan pa ilang sakyanan pag-abot sa office ug didto na sila nagsugod pagpangita anang Albert,” he added.

(Volunteers were putting up posters when they noticed that soldiers were tailing them. They even blocked the vehicle when they arrived in the office and that was when they began looking for a person named Albert)

The urban poor leader said this is another form of harassment by the state forces and an attempt to silence activists and legal organizations who are critical of the Duterte administration.


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