Free Leyte 5! | Farmers condemn Tacloban raids, PNP tanim-ebidensya, illegal arrests of activists

Farmers’ group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas strongly condemns the raid of offices of progressive people’s organizations in Tacloban City and the arrest of five activists.

Based on initial reports, the Tacloban City offices of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Eastern Visayas, KARAPATAN chapter Katungod-Sinirangan Bisayas, Peoples Surge Disaster Survivors Group, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Eastern Vista alternative media organization and Anakpawis Partylist were raided on separate but simultaneous incidents at 1:00 a.m., today February 7.

According to Katungod SB, the raiding teams composed of 50 to 70 combined elements of the PNP and Crime Investigation and Detection Group barged into the offices, forced the occupants to get out of the premises, and planted evidence including firearms and explosives at the offices. The PNP-CIDG showed the warrants only after accosting outside several individuals who were staying at the said offices. At least five were illegally arrested, including Eastern Vista correspondent Frenchie Mae Cumpio, Katungod SB coordinator Alexander ‘Chakoy’ Abinguna, BAYAN staff and ACT Partylist coordinator Mira Legion, Marissa Cabaljao of People Surge, and Marielle ‘Maye’ Domequil of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-EV. Cabaljao’s one-year old baby was also taken into custody. They were brought to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office-8 in Palo, Leyte.

A warrant of arrest for Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (Sagupa SB) peasant leader Jun Berino is also being implemented as of writing.

“We condemn this brazen attack against activists. The vile PNP Tanim Ebidensya team has struck again, now in Eastern Visayas where there is a strong people’s movement demanding the scrapping of EO 70, Memorandum Order No. 32 and resistance to state-sponsored human rights violations. We hold the NTF-ELCAC accountable for these latest attacks,” says Anakpawis president and KMP Chairperson Emeritus Rafael Mariano.

“We demand the immediate release of the Leyte 5 and a stop to these attacks that target activists and legitimate people’s organizations advocating genuine social reforms, democratic rights, and the general welfare of the Filipino masses,” Mariano added.

On Feb. 1, Karapatan chapter Katungod Sinirangan Bisayas reported a threat of a possible raid on progressive offices in Tacloban City. On Feb 3, an unidentified man went to the office of Eastern Vista bearing flowers for the dead and a picture of Cumpio. Cumpio has long been subjected to red-tagging and surveillance by military assets.

The said progressive organizations are staunchly opposing Memorandum Order No. 32 enforced in Samar, Negros and Bicol regions, and the series of extrajudicial killings, militarization, aerial bombings, hamletting of communities in various Samar provinces.

The KMP leader said the raids in Tacloban City today are reminiscent of the October 31, 2019 simultaneous raids in Bacolod City wherein several offices were raided and 57 individuals were illegally arrested by PNP-CIDG and AFP elements.

KMP and other groups are still gathering more information about the Tacloban City raids. An indignation protest will be mounted today. #

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