Police arrested a former organizer of women’s farmer group Amihan-Cagayan in her home in Binangonan, Rizal, at around 1 pm Sunday, October 17.
In a social media alert, Manila-based Taripnong Cagayan Valley said police had arrested Cristina Magistrado and brought her to Tuguegarao City in the evening.
Her younger sister, Mika, confirmed the incident through a text message.
Mika said she accompanied her sister to Tuguegarao. She said they left Binangonan at around 7 pm and arrived at the Police Regional Office 2 in Tuguegarao City after more than 12 hours on the road.
In a phone interview with Rappler on Monday evening, October 18, Binangonan police acting chief Police Major Virgilio Jopia confirmed Magistrado’s arrest.
According to the police chief, the arrest was the result of a joint operation conducted by the Binangonan police along with the Cagayan Valley police, since Magistrado was spotted in Binangonan town.
The local police chief added that Magistrado was brought back to Cagayan Valley, where she is currently under police custody.
Magistrado was arrested on the basis of a July 4, 2016 warrant for “qualified assault upon an agent of a person in authority with attempted murder,” issued by Judge Reynold Lauigan of the Regional Trial Court Branch 1 in Tuguegarao City. The warrant also covered five other individuals from different towns in Cagayan.
Mika told Rappler that several soldiers came looking for her sister at around 11:30 am on Sunday.
Startled by the sudden appearance of military personnel in their yard, her sister stayed on the second floor of their house while their father talked with them.
After a few minutes, four Binangonan police officers accompanying seven men in civilian clothes arrived and showed an arrest warrant. Mika said it took several hours before her sister came down and went with the arresting team led by Police Major Engelbert Bunagan.
As of 1:43 pm, Mika said her sister was still under interrogation in a separate room.
On Monday, the Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women denounced Magistrado’s arrest and called for her immediate release.
“Ang pag-aresto kay Cristina ay malinaw na pag-atake sa kababaihang magbubukid sa bansa (The arrest of Cristina is a clear attack on women farmers in the country),” Zenaida Soriano, national chairperson of Amihan, said in a statement.
Magistrado is the second person affiliated with Amihan-Cagayan arrested by the police.
In December 2020, joint police and military forces arrested Amihan organizer Amanda Echanis in Barangay Carupian at Baggao, Cagayan.
The police said they recovered an M16 rifle, ammunition, and explosives in the house where she and her 1-month-old baby was staying.
She is currently detained at the Cagayan Provincial Jail and faces illegal firearms, ammunition, and explosives charges. – with a report from Jairo Bolledo/Rappler.com
Sherwin de Vera is a Luzon-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship.