This week saw the nation dealing with the complicated and contentious legacy of former Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III following his death at 61. (READ: On PNoy’s last SONA: ‘Blood trail, not legacy, will mark the Aquino administration’)
As the nation mourns, however, several civilians and progressives from various parts of the Philippines were arrested on trumped-up charges.
Here are all of the other HRVs that have been reported this week.
June 23 – Masbate
Weeks after the deaths of the Absalon cousins by accidental landmine blast, three civilians were illegally arrested in Bohol.
According to human rights alliance Karapatan Bikol, civilians were arrested in Brgy. San Jose, Uson, by elements of the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) without any warrants. The trumped-up charges being filed against them were undisclosed, however.
Meanwhile, teacher Mariel Suson was also arrested after being implicated for the deaths of the Absalon cousins.
At 5 AM that day, the home of the Merdegia family was raided by authorities, with their personal belongings reportedly stolen. Concrete details surrounding this incident are yet to be made public.
June 25 – San Diego, San Pablo City, Laguna
Human rights alliance Karapatan Timog Katagalugan (TK) says that Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan (KASAMA-TK) peasant leaders Dana Marie Marcellana and partner Christian Relao were reportedly arrested without arrest or search warrants in their San Diego, San Pablo home at 1 AM this morning.
Elements of Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Mobile Force Battalion – Region 4A, San Pablo Police, as well as military forces brought the pair to San Pablo Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). They are said to be facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and rebellion.
Described as a “staunch human rights defender in the Southern Tagalog region,” Marcellana, working as the provincial peasant organizer for Laguna, is also the eldest daughter of fellow progressives Orly and Eden Marcellana. The latter of whom served as Karapatan-TK’s secretary-general prior to being killed in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro alongside former KASAMA-TK member Eddie Gumanoy in 2003 (READ: Hustisyang 18 taong bimbin: Pag-alala sa ika-18 na anibersaryo pagkamatay nina Eden Marcellana at Eddie Gumanoy).
Meanwhile, Relao serves as the peasant organizer in Quezon.
June 25 – San Jose, Mabini and Trinidad in Bohol
Hours after, United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Pastor Nathaniel Vallente was also arrested in his home in San Jose, Mabini.
Joint forces of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (PNP-CIDG) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) searched Tabada, who is now detained in Trinidad Police Station. Meanwhile, three trucks carrying PNP and AFP personnel came to arrest Vallente.
Both instances had authorities reportedly planting firearms and explosives in their homes. In the case of Vallente, arresting officers allegedly did not wear body cams. Barangay personnel were said to have refused to sign Vallente’s arms/ammunition retrieval.
Tabada has been a FARDEC member since 1998, who was red-tagged and made “significant contributions” to Trinidad’s rice mill. On the other hand, Vallente also serves as a leader of the Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR) and as an active counselor for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-recognized farmers’ organization NAMASAJO.
Human Rights Watch is a weekly collation of human rights news stories gathered from different sources by UPLB Perspective. This initiative was launched in response to the sweeping number of human rights violations (HRVs) among various sectors across the country.