By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – An urban poor group is demanding the Bulacan police to surface arrested urban poor leader Concepcion Opalla, who continues to be denied her right to lawyers and relatives three days since her arrest.
Kadamay said the San Rafael police station in Bulacan has denied having custody of Opalla and kept families and lawyers from communicating with the urban poor leader.
Based on initial information gathered by Kadamay, Opalla was told she is facing child trafficking and child abuse charges, along with five other urban poor leaders. The case stemmed from former Kadamay members who claimed in a Senate hearing back in November last year that their leaders were recruiting minors into the New People’s Army.
A former overseas Filipino worker, Opalla lived in an urban poor community in Malabon for most of her life. Kadamay said that when she learned of their campaigns, she quickly joined and led homeless families in occupying idle government housing units in Pandi, Bulacan.
In 2018, Opalla testified before the International People’s Tribunal in Belgium on the plight of the urban poor and homeless families under the Duterte administration, whose cornerstone economic program is on infrastructure spending. The tribunal later gave a guilty verdict against Duterte and US President Donald Trump for violating the political and economic rights of the Filipino people.
In a statement, Kadamay said the false accusations against their leaders were made “without a shred of evidence.” The group’s secretary general Mimi Doringo also maintained that the cases are politically motivated.
The group revealed that the military has escalated efforts in intimidating Pandi residents, forcing them to sign up as “NPA surrenderees.”
“Pandi residents are living in peace. These housing units have long been awarded by the government. But cases of harassment and abuses perpetrated by the police continue. Is it because we are poor that they can take advantage of us?” said Doringo.