By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The wife of detained peasant leader is calling for the immediate release of her husband, Isabelo Adviento, fourth nominee of Anakpawis Partylist.
In a virtual press conference on April 12, Lina Adviento said that the arrest of her husband has an impact not only on their family but on the farmers that he is helping.
“I call for his release not only for our family but for the people who need his help,” said Lina, adding that Isabela farmers are in dire situation now as prices for fertilizer have gone up, and their produce have been damaged.
In a statement, Cagayan-based NGO Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan, Inc. (KADUAMI) said that Adviento’s or Buting as he is fondly called, campaigned for the condonation of “back accounts” of farmers’ irrigation fees due to losses incurred from disasters. The group said Adviento also led initiatives to increase the low farm gate prices of rice and corn.
Leonida Tundagi of KADUAMI also said that years of Adviento’s commitment to alleviating the situation of farmers was also crucial in the formation of Tulong-Sulong Cagayan Valley, a disaster response machinery that was formed after the onslaught of the deadly super typhoon Lawin in 2016.
Tundagi said the formation of Tulong-Sulong Cagayan mobilized communities of farmers to seek emergency relief and humanitarian aid from the government and other NGOs. “This led to tens of thousands of families of farmers in Cagayan province benefiting from food packs, rice subsidies, fertilizers, seeds, and housing materials,” she said.
Tundagi added that at one point in 2017, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Agriculture set up their help desks at the office compound of Anakpawis in San Gabriel, Tuguegarao City to closely coordinate with Adviento for the distribution of aid.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pililipinas (KMP) said that Adviento was also the main facilitator in the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between farmers and local loan sharks striking out high loan interests in times of calamities.
Meanwhile, Adviento’s lawyer, Catherine Salucon, said they will pursue all legal actions to protect her client’s rights.
“He is a victim of red-tagging. He is a victim of trumped-up charges from the state that suppresses our inherent rights. We will pursue these legal actions and link them to our campaigns and advocacies,” Salucon said.
Adviento was arrested last April 8 in a fastfood restaurant, and is now facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Salucon said the arrest of Adviento stemmed from a search warrant issued by the Municipal Trial Court of Baggao, Cagayan.
It was on December 2, 2020 when authorities raided Adviento’s house in Cagayan and allegedly found firearms and explosives.
Lina recounted that the operatives came at around 3:00 a.m. and told them to get out of the house. “After a few minutes I went back inside to have coffee, I immediately saw two bags. I didn’t know what was inside, it turned out to be firearms and explosives,” she said.
Adviento was not in their house at that time of the incident.
Salucon said they challenged the allegations against Adviento from the beginning.
“We presented all evidence during the preliminary investigation. But the prosecutor did not respond in his favor and still issued a resolution on March 12, 2021. He was formally charged with illegal possession of firearms and illegal possession of explosives,” Salucon said.
Salucon said they questioned the resolution and filed a petition for review at the Department of Justice on April 30, 2021. “The petition for review also argued that the searches made by the searching team on December 2, 2020, are all illegitimate and illicit and the alleged seized objects should be inadmissible in the preliminary investigation. The petition also asserted that the search warrants should be quashed. However, the DOJ did not respond to the petition,” Salucon said.
Ariel Casilao of Anakpawis meanwhile said that the arrest of Adviento is part of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s efforts to discredit and intimidate their members who campaign for Anakpawis Partylist.
“We will fight this. We are sure that we will win this battle. Many activists have been arrested due to trumped-up charges but they were released eventually following the dismissal of the cases,” he said. (RVO)