“This is an old tune,” Axel Pinpin, secretary general of Kalipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), told Bulatlat, referring to the arrest of three peasants in Laguna. He blamed the extended counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya (OBL).
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Three peasants were arrested on Oct.5 and were later on surfaced at the military camp of the 1st Infantry Battalion in Cavinti, Laguna. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Darwin Liwag, 36, Reynaldo Malaborbor, 53, and Aries Cuazo, 33, were on their way to Laguna State Polytechnic University in Sta. Cruz, Laguna to facilitate a blood-letting activity for the victims of dengue in the said province.
However, upon arriving in Barangay Lewin, Lumban, Laguna, some members of the 1st Infantry Batallion and local police arrested the three peasants, at around 3:00 p.m. They were accused of being members of New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. Their bags, cellp hones and other personal belongings were confiscated, according to Karapatan-Southern Tagalog.
Liwag is the secretary general of Pagkakaisa at Unayan ng Magsasaka sa Laguna (Pumalag), a local peasant organization in the province of Laguna. Malaborbor and Cuazo are staff members of the said organization.
“This is an old tune,” Axel Pinpin, secretary general of Kalipunan ng Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK), told Bulatlat. He said that under the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya, which President Benigno Aquino III extended until January 2011, activists are usually branded as front organizations of CCP-NPA.
“For activists, it is an insult to be charged of petty crimes,” Pinpin said.
Pinpin, one of the political prisoners in 2006 dubbed as Tagaytay 5, said that what happened to the three peasant activists in Laguna is similar to their case back in 2006. “Whenever there is a big protest action, the military tries to derail it by arresting leaders,” he said, adding that he and four others were were arrested three days before the May 1 rally.”
On Oct. 7, the three peasants were visited by their respective families. However, the families reported to Karapatan-Southern Tagalog that they were not able to talk to them very well because the soldiers heavily guarded them. Their short visit was also recorded via a camera installed in the room.
The lawyer was not allowed to speak with the three peasants, which is supposedly one of the basic rights of an accused, Karapatan said.
“(The arrest and detention of the three peasants) are striking because Aquino promised to implement changes in the country,” Pinpin said, adding Aquino’s famous line in his State of the Nation Address ‘There can be no reconciliation without justice.’ However, Pinpin said that there has been no change when it comes to respecting human rights in the country. (Bulatlat.com)