“The arrest and detention of Hernan Certeza is a clear manifestation that there is no genuine freedom in the country and, heroes who fight for it are silenced and detained.” — Vince Casilihan of Karapatan – Bicol
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Human rights group Karapatan-Bicol assailed the arrest and detention of Hernan Certeza, spokesperson of Kilusang Mayo Uno – Albay on Aug. 25 after joining an anti-pork barrel rally.
Certeza was released after posting bail amounting to P12,000 ($272) today, Aug. 26.
“This only shows how the current administration curtails the freedom of expression and assembly of those who are critical of its policies and programs. The arrest and detention of Hernan Certeza is a clear manifestation that there is no genuine freedom in the country and, heroes who fight for it are silenced and detained,” Vince Casilihan of Karapatan – Bicol said.
Certeza was charged with grave coercion for a rally he joined last Feb. 24.
Casilihan, however, maintained that there was no crime committed as Certeza and other protesters were merely expressing their grievance in the impending privatization of Albay Electric Company (Aleco). He added that those who joined the protest were questioning what they perceive as an “anomalous” concession deal involving the electric company and San Miguel Energy Corporation.
“It must be noted that members and consumers are owners and stakeholders of ALECO and can exercise their rights as such, and thus should not be prosecuted for the same,” he said.
During the Feb. 24 rally, Casilihan said he was the one being arrested by the police. When Certeza came to his aid, he, too, was grabbed, pushed to the ground and was handcuffed by the police.
Their lawyer Bartolome Rayco, who is also the chairperson of National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-Albay, and a 17-year-old member of Kaboronyogan Cultural Network were also arrested with them.
Rayco, Casilihan and Certeza were charged with grave coercion and malicious mischief while the 17-year-old youth artist was transferred to the City Social Welfare and Development (CSWD).
Casilihan said that while they welcome the release of Certeza, his arrest is “clearly a collusion between the capitalists and the manipulative and repressive government, a violation of Albay consumer rights, and suppression of civil and political rights.”
Certeza is the second progressive leader arrested in five days. On Aug. 22, indigenous leader Genasque Enriquez was arrested in Surigao City, Surigao del Norte after he attended a press conference for the People’s Initiative against Pork. Enriquez, the Katribu Partylist national vice chair and secretary general of the Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (Kasalo), was arrested on charges of frustrated murder. He was released the next day, Aug. 23, after posting bail.