March started with the killings of activists in Calabarzon. And by the looks of it, would end with arrests of many others as the Philippine National Police launched a sweeping crackdown against progressive groups on Holy Tuesday, March 30.
In the early morning on Tuesday, the police arrested Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) vice chairperson and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) leader Joseph Canlas in Mexico, Pampanga.
Canlas was served an arrest warrant and also apprehended based on the discovery of a gun allegedly found in his office. He was brought to Camp Olivas in San Fernando, Pampanga.
The KMP said the police raided the AMGL office in Sapang Maisac by virtue of a search warrant past 6 am, before Canlas's arrest.
In a simultaneous operation, Karapatan Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla and Bayan Central Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya were arrested in Bamban, Tarlac.
Arcilla and Viuya claim the cops planted evidence to justify their arrest. The two were both brought to Camp Macabulos in Tarlac City.
The crackdown on Tuesday didn't stop with the arrests of the Central Luzon peasant leaders. Another raid was conducted by PNP Calabarzon in Sta Rosa, Laguna.
Joint operatives of PNP Calabarzon and the Crime Investigation Detection Group busted the former union house of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Engklabo in Barangay Market View.
The police were supposed to serve a search warrant against Maritess Santos David, secretary of the committee of PAMANTIK-KMU, for alleged possession of firearms and explosives, but she was not in the area during the operations.
Judge Charito Macalintal Sawali of the Regional Trial Court Branch 66 of Tanauan City, Batangas, issued the search warrant for the operation.
Authorities also claimed they seized firearms from the union house, but Kilusang Mayo Uno immediately refuted this and said that the police planted the ammunition.
Alleged subversive documents and paraphernalia, including a copy of PAMANTIK-KMU's press release on kontraktwalisasyon (contractualization) and labor-only contracting, were allegedly recovered from the area. But PAMANTIK-KMU is a legal organization that fights against contractualization and promotes labor rights. Its releases and propaganda materials are also legal.
This latest crackdown on activists in Central and Southern Luzon came only 3 weeks after "Bloody Sunday," which resulted in the arrest of 6 activists and the killing of 9 others.
On March 21, Karapatan paralegal Renalyn Tejero, a Lumad-Manobo, was arrested in Cagayan de Oro on murder charges. She said she never received a subpoena and was neither summoned for a preliminary investigation.
In Cagayan Valley, Anakpawis Cagayan chairperson Calixto Cabildo was arrested in Amulung, Cagayan, on March 25 for alleged possession of firearms and explosives. Karapatan Cagayan Valley claimed Cabildo was "illegally arrested and planted with evidence" by the police.
More recently, labor leader Dandy Miguel was gunned down by unknown assailants while riding his motorcycle in Calamba, Laguna, on Sunday, March 28. Miguel is the 10th Calabarzon activist to be killed this month. – Rappler.com