Harassed Bayan Muna Member Files Charges vs AFP

Posted 3:50 p.m., March 21, 2007

Bayan Muna (People First) member Alberto Corbes filed election-related and criminal charges today against the members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) deployed in Lupang Pangako, Payatas, Quezon City.

At 10:30 a.m., Corbes, assisted by Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) legal counsel Rex Fernandez, filed charges against Lt. Roel Cotillon at the Quezon City Fiscal’s Office.

In his sworn statement, Corbes alleged that Cotillon harassed him on Feb. 26 upon learning that he is a Bayan Muna member.

Corbes was carrying Bayan Muna membership forms for the group’s organizing in their place in Payatas when five soldiers allegedly blocked his way.

Upon learning about the Bayan Muna forms, he said Cotillon allegedly told him, “Iyang Bayan Muna ay mga NPA (New People’s Army), tigilan mo na ’yan. May kaso ‘yan. Disqualified na yan!” (Bayan Muna is an NPA front, stop that already. There is a case against your group. You are already disqualified!)

Although he denied the accusation, he said Cotillon allegedly threatened him, “Kung ayaw mong tigilan ‘yan, hindi ka na aabutan ng Cuaresma” (If you don’t stop that you won’t live to see the Holy Week).

The next two days, Corbes noticed two men in front of his house. On March 1, he said he was hearing noise outside and saw his fence destroyed. When he peeked through the window, somebody threw stones at him that wounded his head and right knee.

He immediately secured a medico-legal check-up at the East Avenue Medical Center the next day. He also said he was not able to go to work for 10 days.

He said he only thought of one person who could have the motive to do such thing on him, Cotillon who allegedly once threatened his life. Since the barangay (village) hall is where the soldiers stay, he instead reported the incident to the Bayan Muna headquarters.

Fernandez said that the soldiers were charged with grave threats, coercion and less physical injuries.

With Corbes, leaders of Bayan Muna filed a new complaint at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) against the AFP for their partisan political activities.

“What the AFP is doing against Bayan Muna is a brazen violation of the law, which the Comelec is duty bound to stop and punish,” Bayan Muna general counsel Neri Javier Colmenares said, citing Corbes’ sworn statement.

According to Colmenares, the deployed AFP personnel allegedly violated Section 261 (e) and (i) Article 22 of the Omnibus Election Code related to “threats, intimidation, terrorism, use of fraudulent device or other forms of coercion” and to “intervention by public officers and employees.”

He added that Comelec Resolution No. 7747 dated Nov. 21, 2006, and the Comelec-Department of National Defense Memorandum of Agreement dated Oct. 12, 2006 were also violated by AFP presence in urban poor communities.

“The military’s campaign against Bayan Muna is not community service. It is a crime,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casino.(Bulatlat.com)

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