Last April 15, Kabataan Party-list (Youth Party-list) members in Caloocan were subjected to harassment and threats by no less than the city Mayor himself. Mayor Recom Echiverri, who is running for his second term hit and threatened the party-list members for removing his campaign posters.
BY ZOFIA LEAL
Vol. VII, No. 12 April 29-May 5, 2007
ast April 15, Kabataan Party-list (Youth Party-list) members in Caloocan were subjected to harassment and threats by no less than the city Mayor himself. Mayor Recom Echiverri, who is running for his second term hit and threatened the party-list members for removing his campaign posters.
According to Mike (not his real name), one of the five members that was involved in the incident, they were putting up campaign posters last April 15 when they found out that the streamers that they have set up earlier were moved by the people of Echiverri.
In their frustration, they then decided to remove Echiverri’s campaign materials as well. When they were removing one streamer, a van suddenly appeared behind them with two armed men inside. They were then asked why they were removing Echiverri’s streamer.
Mike’s companions then answered that the mayor’s people were also removing Kabataan Party-list campaign streamers. One of the armed men then took his gun and told them to board the van. While they were boarding the van, the armed man then pointed his gun at Mike.
They all thought that they will be brought to the police station, but instead they were brought directly to the house of Mayor Echiverri. Echiverri then approached Mike and asked why they were removing his posters. Mike answered that his people was also removing theirs. When Echiverri asked if they had evidence to prove their claim, Mike said residents at Bagong Baryo saw Echiverri’s people remove it. Suddenly, Echiverri hit Mike.
One of the armed men then approached Mike’s companion, and threatened to hit him for allegedly staring at him.
Echiverri then instructed his men to bring them to the office of the medico-legal for examination and then to the police precinct. At the precinct they were detained for 7 hours without the police presenting a case against them. After they were released, the police just said that they should personally apologize to Mayor Echiverri.
Anakbayan (Sons and Daughters of the People) members held a mobilization last April 20 at the house of Mayor Echiverri to protest the harassment, manhandling and arbitrary detention of their colleagues. They were blocked by the police and Echiverri’s bodyguards a few blocks from the mayor’s house. Echiverri’s campaign jingle was also played to drown out the protesters’ voices. The posters of the protesters were also taken from them.
After the mobilization, a group of protesters was blocked by Mayor Echiverri’s van. Echiverri then asked a member what they had against him. Jane (not her real name) then answered that what the Mayor did to their five members was wrong. She also said that the Mayor has no clear program for the youth and now he has harassed and threatened his own constituents. During this time the Mayor was also pinching her nose. Echiverri then said that what if he turns the tables on them and goes to their houses. Jane then answered that what he said was a clear threat considering that they were only ordinary citizens of Caloocan. Echiverri did not respond.
After the incident, streamers and posters of Kabataan Party-list members posted in their own homes were being removed. Also, one of the five members brought to Echiverri saw the same men that harassed them in front of his house.
Jane said that what Echiverri is doing to them is no different from what is being done to Kabataan Party-list members in other regions. “Malinaw na number one na tuta siya ni Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, kasi lahat ng polisiya ng national government, dito sa Caloocan ramdam na ramdam, bawal nga mag rally dito e, saglit ka pa lang mag rally andyan na ang kapulisan para i-dispers kayo. Andyan na ang E-VAT magtataas pa siya ng local tax dito… wala ka talagang makita na para sa services. Hindi mo alam kung saan napupunta ang mga taxes dito, kasi una, wala namang malinaw na public hospital dito. Ang napupuntahan ng pondo mga pagpapagawa ng basketball court e ano naman ang gagawin ng kabataan dun kung wala nga silang matinong classroom.” (It is clear that he is a number one follower of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo because all policies in the national government is being implemented in Caloocan, it is forbidden to hold mobilizations here. E-VAT is already being implemented here and so is the increase in local taxes. We do not know where our taxes go because we don’t even have a public hospital. The funds go to building basketball courts but the youth has no use of that if they don’t have classrooms.) Jane said.
Mike, his companions, and other Kabataan Party-list members are not cowed by the harassments being done by Echeverri. They are more determined than ever to win and expose fraud the violence in the May elections. Bulatlat