By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – Bulacan-based urban poor leader was released on bail today, May 7, over what her colleagues described as baseless and fabricated charges.
Connie Opalla, an urban poor leader who participated in the Occupy Movement back in 2017, was initially declared missing after the police denied having arrested and detained her in March 2021. This until her family and paralegal officers of Kadamay learned of her whereabouts.
She is facing child abuse and human trafficking charges over her purported recruitment of minors to become members of the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. These charges, Kadamay said, are “utterly ridiculous, baseless and yet warranted almost a quarter of a year in jail where she was repeatedly denied food and other basic needs.”
Today, May 7, she posted a reduced bail amounting to P140,000 ($2,920) before the local family court in Bulacan.
“This is how people in authority work under the Duterte administration,” said Mimi Doringo, Kadamay secretary general.
“The smallest hearsay from a supposed police asset can bring you behind bars. They did this too to those they branded as drug addicts, and they ended up either dead or jailed. Now, they are after activists and those they brand as NPA members,” she added.
Kadamay called for the dropping of charges against her, saying that the criminal charges boil down to red-tagging and political persecution.
Meanwhile, the group thanked those who donated for Opalla’s bail.
Opalla was a former overseas Filipino worker. She lived in an urban poor community in Malabon for most of her life and was among those who joined the Occupy Movement in Pandi, Bulacan.