Fishers groups call for release of its president

By Mavic Conde


NATIONAL and regional fishers groups call for the release of Elwin Mangampo, president of Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol (LAMBAT-Bicol) who arrested after police authorities allegedly found firearms and explosives in his home during a search operation on May 30, a day before the National Fisherfolk Day.


"Mangampo should be immediately and unconditionally released, as his charges are "undoubtedly fabricated based on planted evidence," said Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) president Fernando Hicap.


LAMBAT-Bicol members also condemned the arrest and called for his immediate release, so he can continue serving his family and fellow fisherfolk, and his village as a barangay councilor.


According to LAMBAT-Bicol, "There's no truth in the allegations against Elwin. Before the search operation at ten in the morning [when Mangampo returned home from fishing], members of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) already went to his home at three in the morning. Only his wife, who had recently undergone a medical operation, and their child were there."


Elwin will never put his family to this kind of risk, and now that he's detained he's worried how to support his family and his wife's needs for medical care," the group added.


As a leader, Mangampo has been organizing dialogues with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Bicol including during the pandemic to help his fellow fisherfolk get the aid they deserve. He also helped respond to typhoon disasters by facilitating relief operations, one of them is the group's feeding operation called mobile hot meals. He even facilitated PAMALAKAYA's boat dispersal project in Albay province last March.


PAMALAKAYA blamed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as behind the crackdown against activists.


“Without a doubt, behind this is the government’s anti-communist task force headed by Antonio Parlade, who happens to be the AFP’s Southern Luzon commander covering the Bicol region. Part of its dirty-trick is to target legal democratic organizations in Southern Tagalog and present them as achievements in its anti-insurgency campaign,” Hicap said.


Meanwhile, LAMBAT-Bicol is calling Judge Edwin Ma-alat who signed the Search Warrant to review the document. "He has put Elwin and his family in danger," the group said.


"We could only imagine the worst things that could happen to the fisherfolk leader if he hadn't been in the sea when the authorities raided his house in the wee hours,” PAMALAKAYA said.