By RONALYN OLEA
MANILA — Two grenades were thrown at a house of a Bayan Muna member in Lezo, Aklan. Meanwhile, soldiers from the Philippine Army are openly campaigning against progressive party-list groups in South Cotabato.
On March 19, at around 5:30 a.m., two unidentified men on board a motorcycle threw two grenades at the house of Bayan Muna-Aklan chairman Fernando Baldomero in Sta. Cruz, Biga-a, Lezo, Aklan.
The account of the incident by Bayan Muna-Aklan revealed that one of the suspects hurled the grenades one after the other at Baldomero’s house. Baldomero’s father Ramon, 92, was drinking his coffee that time and was preparing to feed his chickens when an explosion was heard at the back of the house. Minutes after, another grenade was thrown, hitting the glass window and almost hitting Ramon. The grenade did not explode.
A witness said the two suspects are in their early 20s and were talking in Tagalog.
Baldomero’s brother Ernan went to the Lezo Police Station to ask for police assistance and file a police blotter report on the incident. The police went to the house to investigate and the explosive expert from Aklan Police Provincial Office detonated the grenade that was found inside the house.
Before the incident, the family noticed that their dogs were barking late at night and the early morning for three days. Unidentified persons pretending to be salesmen also went to the barangay to inquire about the Baldomero family.
Three days before the attack, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Javier Colmenares even stayed at the same house while in Aklan.
Meanwhile, in South Cotabato, elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army have been openly campaigning against progressive groups. In the villages, they have been conducting meetings to tell the people not to vote for progressive party-list groups such as Bayan Muna and also against senatorial candidates Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza.
Since January, the 27th IB- PA has been conducting surveys to gather information especially from active members of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, and Kabataan including supporters of Ocampo and Maza. They also gathered people in a barangay plaza to show a video documentary portraying progressive party-list groups, Ocampo and Maza as members and supporters of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
Bayan Muna third nominee Joven Laura has called the attention of Army Chief Maj. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu to “look into these cases of harassment and intimidation by his men on local leaders of Bayan Muna and other progressive party-list groups in Mindanao.”
“Mapagu should immediately take action on these harassment cases and put a stop to all the violations against members and supporters of Bayan Muna and other progressive party-list groups and organizations,” Laura said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Rep. Teddy Casiño said actual cases of harassment and intimidation by elements of the military on progressive candidates and party-list groups are clear violations of the military’s obligation not to engage in partisan politics.
Laura also challenged the new Army Chief Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit to punish violators within the military. “Human rights violations and the smear campaign against progressive candidates and party-list groups will never stop unless those who violated the law get punished,” he said.
More than 130 Bayan Muna members have been killed since 2001. (Bulatlat.com)