By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Human rights group Karapatan is calling for the release of their Lumad colleague who was arrested by police in Cagayan de Oro City early morning Sunday, March 21.
Renalyn Tejero, 25, a Karapatan Caraga paralegal and a Manobo, has turned up under arrest at the Camp Col. Rafael Rodriguez, the Philippine National Police (PNP) Caraga regional office 13 in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.
Tejero had been missing for half a day, having lost contact with her colleagues after she was last seen being taken by armed men at 5 A.M. in another province, in barangay Lapasan, Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental.
It turned out a joint police and military team arrested her on charges of murder and attempted multiple murder, as announced by the PNP Caraga late this afternoon. They flaunted having nabbed Tejero, who they claimed is the region’s “top 1 most wanted NPA (New People’s Army).”
The PNP Caraga also claimed that Tejero is “one of the primary suspects” in the killing of Zaldy Acidillo Ybañez and Datu Bernandino Astudillo Surigao del Sur last year.
This was the same charge against Rogelio de Asis, Pamalakaya Caraga chairperson, and auditor of Pamalakaya National. De Asis was arrested on Feb. 11 at his home in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte.
The arrest warrants issued by the Regional Trial Court branch 34 recommends no bail for the murder case, and a fixed bail of Php120,000 for the multiple attempted murder case, the PNP Caraga said.
Tejero is the second activist from Caraga who was arrested in four days. On March 17, a similar joint police and military operation arrested Rosanilla “Teacher Lai” Consad, ACT secretary in Region XIII, a special education teacher and an assistant principal of San Vicente National High School in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte.
Also in the region just last February, four prominent activists were arrested on murder charges, which their organizations denounced as trumped-up cases.
The PNP Caraga said Tejero was arrested by a composite team of the PNP regional intelligence units from Region 13 and Region 10, the Philippine Army’s 402nd Brigade under the 4th Infantry Division, the 23rd Infantry Battalion and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Progressive groups denounced Tejero’s arrest and called for her release. The Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) in a Facebook post said Tejero is an “IFI active youth member.” Katribu Youth called the arrest “an attack on indigenous peoples and people’s rights.”