‘Holy Week crackdown’ not over, cops arrest Bohol peasant leader

In what seemed to be a continuation of the “Holy Week crackdown” that saw the apprehension of at least 3 activists in Central and Southern Luzon, police arrested on Wednesday, April 7, in Bohol another peasant leader.

Oscar Balonga, chairperson of the Bongbong Farmers Association, was arrested by the police on Wednesday in Barangay Bongbong in Trinidad town for illegal possession of firearms. The cops confirmed his arrest in a phone interview with Rappler. 

However, Humabol-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) refuted this and claimed the police planted the evidence. 

According to Humabol-KMP, an undetermined number of police entered Balonga’s house on April 7 around 8 pm. Balonga and his family were ordered to step out. While the Balongas were outside, the law enforcers allegedly found a .38 revolver gun inside Balonga's house.

The group added that the police did not show them a search warrant when they entered Balonga’s house. Trinidad police, however, said they presented a search warrant with number 21-11. 

Balonga’s family also denied the allegations, saying they could barely eat 3 meals a day, much more afford a pistol. 

The peasant leader is now detained at Trinidad Municipal Police Station. He faces a complaint similar to the other activists who were arrested over the course of the police's crackdown. 

On April 5, Genelyn Dichoso, secretary general of Karapatan Quezon, allegedly surrendered in the 201st Infantry Brigade (201IB) in Calauag, Quezon. However, Karapatan refuted this and said she was arrested by the military. 

On Holy Tuesday, March 30, 3 rights leaders were arrested in simultaneous raids in Luzon. 

In the early morning of March 30, the police arrested Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) vice chairperson and Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) leader Joseph Canlas in Mexico, Pampanga. 

In a simultaneous operation, Karapatan Central Luzon paralegal May Arcilla and Bayan Central Luzon chairperson Pol Viuya were arrested in Bamban, Tarlac. Arcilla was eventually freed for further investigation. 

The same day, joint operatives of Philippine National Police Calabarzon and the Crime Investigation Detection Group busted the former union house of Alyansa ng mga Manggagawa sa Engklabo in Barangay Market View in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. – Rappler.com