At around 1:00 AM today, development worker Carmilo Tabada, Coordinator of Central Visayas Farmers Development Center (FARDEC) was illegally arrested by combined forces of PNP-CIDG and AFP in Trinidad, Bohol over planted firearms and grenade explosive. He is currently detained at the Trinidad Police Station.
At 3:00 AM, Pastor Nathaniel Vallente of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) was also arrested in Mabini, Bohol over the same planted evidence. Claiming that they have a warrant, the raiding teams were not wearing any body camera and the barangay officials did not even sign the manifestation of arms and ammunition retrieval. Pastor Vallente is an active counselor of the local farmer organization Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa San Jose (NAMASAJO).
Last March 29, 2021, unidentified individuals on motorcycles staged a rally outside the residence of Tabada. The protesters carried anti-communist placards and maliciously attacked Tabada by claiming he was hiding firearms.
FARDEC is a non-stock, non-profit organization established in 1989 by a group of religious and laypersons to serve as a regional support mechanism for the farmers in Central Visayas, particularly in Bohol, Cebu, and Negros Oriental provinces. Its main area of intervention is the empowerment of farmers towards the realization of genuine land reform and sustainable rural development. The institution has been a recipient of several awards and citations. FARDEC works closely with KMP provincial chapter Hugpong Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL).
The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas condemns these latest attacks on legitimate peasant leaders under the guise of counter-insurgency. The operations are similar to the Synchronized Enhanced Management of Police Operations (SEMPO) that resulted in the arrests and massacre of farmers in Negros Oriental from 2017 to 2019.
The planting of evidence and illegal arrest of Vallente and Tabada is the latest in the string of attacks against Bohol-based farmers and activists. Last April 30, farmer and local barangay official Alfie Sarsale, was arrested in Barangay Batuan, Rizal town. He was among the 37 individuals who were falsely accused of murder and attempted murder charges and implicated in the death of PFC Gerald Villanueva during an armed encounter on February 29, 2020, between troops of the 47th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, and the NPA in Brgy. Cambigsi, Bilar town in Bohol.
KMP demands the immediate release of Vallente, Tabada and Sarsale.
It is hypocritical for the government and President Rodrigo Duterte to call for unity during this period of mourning when it is persisting with intense militarization, illegal arrests, killings, and even massacre of civilians. ###