Urban poor group raises funds for bail of arrested community organizer

Connie Opalla testified in the 2018 tribunal that indicted President Duterte and then US President Donald Trump guilty of violating the political and economic rights of the Filipino people. (Photo courtesy of IPT 2018)

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Urban poor group Kadamay is currently pooling legal funds for an arrested community organizer who has yet to post bail over what they said were politically motivated cases.

Concepcion Opalla, who celebrated her 41st birthday while in detention on April 20, was arrested last month over child trafficking and child abuse charges. This stemmed from claims of former Kadamay members who purportedly said she was recruiting minors into the New People’s Army – an allegation Kadamay said to be baseless and purely politically motivated.

Her bail is set at P280,000 ($5,800) but they will appeal before the Bulacan court to have it reduced, said Kadamay’s paralegal officer Claire Suiza.

The group is hoping to be able to post bail this week from the donations and borrowed money they were able to pool. But Opalla’s legal funds, Suiza said, must be replenished as they are expecting to incur expenses in what they expect will be a long battle, no matter how baseless and unfounded the charges were.

Kept from family

The police had initially kept her from her family and colleagues in Kadamay, denying she was in their detention facility. Suiza said there should have been documents of her arrest or being taken in even as the police said they were not Opalla’s arresting officers.

Read: Surface urban poor leader, police urged

“How do you know she is here?” a police officer was quoted as saying to Opalla’s husband Prince. Her husband then replied he received a text message from Opalla herself.

It took, however, nearly a week for her family and Kadamay colleagues to see her at last.

“When I first saw her, she was sobbing because she was relieved to know that Kadamay is helping her as she has been inactive for quite some time,” said Suiza, adding that Opalla stepped back from her community organizing work as she needed to focus on her small business.

Suiza reassured her that they will work hard for her release and the eventual dismissal of the cases against her.

A former overseas Filipino worker, Opalla lived in an urban poor community in Malabon for most of her life. She was among those who joined the Occupy movement in Pandi, Bulacan.

In 2018, she testified before the International People’s Tribunal in Belgium, where President Duterte and then US President Donald Trump were indicted over human rights violations in the Philippines. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

This article was updated on April 23, 2021, 9:50 a.m. to remove the approximate amount of the bail if the court will grant Opalla’s motion to reduce it.

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