Members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance)-Southern Tagalog chapter decried the ‘criminalization of activists.’
They stormed the offices of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) today, which they held responsible for the charges filed against their colleagues.
In August, 27 activists in Southern Tagalog have been accused of arson, destruction of property and conspiracy to commit rebellion in connection with the burning down of a Globe cellular site in Lemery, Batangas. Recently, four of the 72 accused of multiple murder and multiple frustrated murder in relation to a raid by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Puerto Galera in Mindoro Oriental last March 3, 2006 were arrested.
Arrested were Remigio Saladero, legal counsel of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-May First Movement), Rogelio Galit, spokesperson of Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka), transport sector leader Nestor San Jose and Bayan Muna member Crispin Zapanta. They have been detained at the Calapan City District Jail.
Noriel Rocafort, Bayan-Batangas secretary general, said it is the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) headed by Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzalez that is responsible for the ‘indiscriminate, massive filing of criminal charges against Southern Tagalog activists.’ He said the arrests signal ‘a new wave of state-sponsored political repression and crackdown against militant organizations in the region.’
The IALAG was created by President Arroyo in 2006 through Executive Order 493.
Rocafort maintained that the persecution of activists is part of the Arroyo regime’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch).(Bulatlat.com)