“The police personnel’s justification of their arrests along with other human rights defenders, is a blatant manifestation of weaponizing the law to silence and repress those who criticize the government’s failed pandemic response, corruption and trade union and human rights violations.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – Various groups denounced the arrest of two activists just after their arraignment at Quezon City Regional Trial Court today, Oct. 10.
Kilusang Mayo Uno’s International Officer Kara Taggaoa and transport leader Helari Valbuena, president of Pasiklab Operators and Drivers Association (PASODA) are charged with trumped-up cases of robbery and direct assault.
The charges reportedly stemmed from their reported involvement in the protest action on July 11, 2020 in front of the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City. The protest was about their opposition to the enactment of terror law and the cancellation of ABS-CBN’s franchise. According to human rights group Karapatan, an alleged cop in plainclothes was surveilling the protesters at that time.
In a video posted on Facebook, Taggaoa said the arraignment on the robbery case had just ended when she was accosted by some police personnel on her way out, read her Miranda rights and then arrested for direct assault charges.
Taggaoa said the robbery case was already scheduled for a resolution in the next hearing.
Valbuena and Taggao decried the violation of their right to due process as they have yet to receive any subpoena from the Office of the Prosecutor in Quezon City. They were also not given a chance to participate in the preliminary investigation on the complaints against them, Karapatan said.
Valbuena and Taggao were able to post bail on the robbery case that is why their arrest for another charge caught them by surprise. They also denied any involvement in any of the charges against them.
The two were taken to Camp Karingal in Quezon City where the police reportedly showed the warrant of arrest against them.
Different groups immediately trooped to Camp Karingal denouncing the arrest of Taggaoa and Valbuena.
Karapatan demands the immediate release of Valbuena and Taggaoa.
“Exercising the people’s right to conduct assemblies and rallies and to express their opinions freely without threats, even during a public health emergency, are fundamental rights, which should not be criminalized in whatever way by authorities,” the group said in a statement.
International League for Peoples’ Struggle-Philippines (ILPS Philippines) also condemned the arrest of Valbuena and Taggaoa, who is also a member of ILPS Workers Commission 5.
“The police personnel’s justification of their arrests along with other human rights defenders, is a blatant manifestation of weaponizing the law to silence and repress those who criticize the government’s failed pandemic response, corruption and trade union and human rights violations,” the group said in a statement.
A donation drive is ongoing to raise funds for the bail of Valbuena and Taggaoa. (RTS, RVO)