By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – A women’s group has welcomed the temporary release of Hedda Calderon, a political prisoner who had spent at least eight months in detention for trumped-up charges, following the decision of a Laguna court to grant her bail plea.
Calderon, a human rights defender and licensed social worker, was among those arrested at gunpoint along with peace consultant Adelberto Silva after a consultation in October 2018. Women’s group Gabriela said the consultation was a part of the continuous effort among progressives to build peace based on justice “even after the government of Duterte had unilaterally suspended the peace talks.”
The Free our Sisters Free Ourselves campaign said Calderon and the four other arrested activists were told to drop face down in the scorching heat of the sun for two hours while the combined forces of police and military “searched” their vehicles and allegedly found firearms and explosives, which served as basis for the charges against them.
“Her fervor to serve the people has never faltered despite some limitations in her physical mobility. Yet, the government sees this fervor as a threat to its national security,” said the Free our Sisters Free Ourselves campaign in a Facebook post earlier this year.
Gabriela said that Calderon’s case has become a “norm” these days, following the vilification of leaders and members of progressive organizations, and those who are active in criticizing and exposing the corruption in the country.