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BAYAN slams arrest of 2 militant leaders

LEGAZPI CITY --- The Bicol chapter of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) has condemned the arrest of two militant leaders in separate police operations on Monday, Sept. 7 in Camarines Sur and Albay, an official of the progressive group said.

Dan Balucio BAYAN secretary general, said the arrest of Nelsy Rodriguez, BAYAN Camarines Sur chairperson and Ramon Rescovilla, secretary general of the Concerned Drivers and Operators (CONDOR-PISTON) Bicol and concurrent PISTON national vice president were based on trumped-up charges to step up the government’s crackdown on militant leaders of mass organizations.

Police operatives serving separate warrants of arrest on charges of murder nabbed Rodriguez on Saturday, Sept. 5, at the BAYAN office in Naga City, while Rescovilla, 53 of Daraga town was collared at his residence in Barangay Kilicao on Monday (Sept. 7) afternoon.

The two are facing murder complaints involving an incident in Barangay Malaya, Labo, Camarines Norte last Jan. 22 this year, according to Balucio.

“We can see a pattern of trumped-up charges against us citing a similar case of Jenelyn Nagrampa GABRIELA national vice-chairperson and Dan San Andres, Karapatan Bicol spokesperson, who were arrested in July for the murder of a Philippine Army officer in Ragay town on May 13, 2018.

Balucio assailed the manner in which the two militant leaders were arrested, as they were denied due process, which is a clear violation of human rights.

In the case of Rescovilla, Balucio said lawyers are checking the alleged planting of evidence, a gun and grenade, against the suspect including harassment and sign of torture marks on his body.

He said the crackdown was in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s Memorandum Order (MO) No. 32, which is aimed to suppress and prevent lawless violence in Bicol and Samar, and Executive Order (EO) No. 70, a campaign to end local communist armed conflict.

“The Duterte government is hell-bent on crushing legitimate dissent by weaponizing the law,” he said

He lamented that instead of addressing the Covid-19 pandemic with a comprehensive public health program and pursuing programs that would improve the country’s economy, Duterte administration is more focused on attacking dissent and trampling the rights of its critics.

BAYAN demanded the immediate release of its leaders claiming that the charges were baseless and fabricated.

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