Serving as leaders of progressive groups, the Lemita family has long faced threats and harassment from state forces.
In what Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Batangas called “another manifestation of red-tagging and terror-tagging of the fascist state”, a subpoena was issued last July 29 against Alaiza Lemita over trumped-up charges of “multiple attempted murder”. This is despite BAYAN Batangas’ statement that such charges were already resolved even way back 2017.
“Hindi kataka-takang pakana ito ng Terror Law at Executive Order 70 o EO 70 ng rehimeng Duterte [This is undoubtedly perpetuated by the Terror Law and Executive Order 70 or EO 70 of the Duterte regime],” BAYAN Batangas said on the issuance of subpoena.
Giving special authority to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), BAYAN Batangas expressed that EO 70 suppresses the democratic rights of progressive individuals coming from different sectors of the society. The organization added that the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 and EO 70 are anti-democratic laws that fall under the directive of Pres. Rodrigo Duterte, who they called the “Massacre King”.
BAYAN Batangas also condemned the late issuance of Alaiza’s subpoena. According to the
organization, the Lemita family received the subpoena 22 days after the scheduled date of the preliminary investigation.
“Kaya naman, pansin na pansin talaga ang timing ng huling pagpapadala ng abiso ng subpoena sa pamilya Lemita … nawalan pa ng tsansa ang panig ni Alaiza upang tuligsain ang nasabing gawa-gawang kaso [The untimely advisory of the subpoena to the Lemita family is very telling … there is no chance for Alaiza’s camp to disprove the trumped-up charges],” BAYAN Batangas added.
Persistent attacks on the Lemita family
The subpoena was issued almost five months after Alaiza’s sister and brother-in-law, Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista, were brutally murdered during COPLAN ASVAL last March 7, infamously known as the Bloody Sunday Massacre (READ: 9 patay, 4 arestado matapos ang ‘Bloody Sunday’ sa Timog Katagalugan).
“Ang kanilang oras, lakas at buhay ay nakalaan parati sa pagsisilbi, sila’y mga aktibistang pumanday at pumapanday ng lipunan tungo sa tunay na paglaya [They dedicated their time, strength, and life to serving the people; they are activists that continually forge the society towards true liberation],” said Des of Anakbayan Batangas on the couple, who are both members of Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan (UMALPAS KA).
Months after the Bloody Sunday Massacre happened, progressive groups from Southern Tagalog continued to call for justice for the slain activists.
“Sama-sama nating mas paingayin pa lalo ang mga isyu na ito at atin silang kalampagin, dahil sa mga panahong ito na mas lumalawak pa ang hanay ng masa at umiigting pa lalo ang pakikiisa laban sa pasismo [Let us be united to continually bring light to these issues and let us rattle them, because this is the time that the line of the masses are ever expanding and the unity against fascism is ever intensified],” Anakbayan Lipa said. (READ: Families, friends reiterate demand for justice a month after COPLAN ASVAL’s Bloody Sunday).
In truth, the Lemita family is not new to harassment from state forces. Last 2014, when Alaiza was only 17 years old, she had already been illegally arrested along with her parents and uncle by around 100 elements of the combined forces of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Philippine Air Force (PAF). They were accused of illegal possession of firearms, despite none being seen at their house to support the allegation.
Coming from the peasant and fisherfolk sector, the Lemita family primarily campaigned for their community’s right to farm, settle, and fish in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas for over two decades. Alaiza was serving as the Regional Vice President for Southern Tagalog of Anakbayan when she was arrested in 2014, while her parents also held leadership positions in other progressive organizations.
BAYAN Batangas strongly condemns the continuous harassment against the Lemita family, further denouncing the continuous suppression of the Duterte administration of the people’s democratic rights.
“Tutulan at huwag pahintulutan ang malawakang red-tagging at terror-tagging ng pasistang rehimen ni Duterte! Kondenahin ang gawa-gawang kaso laban sa mga aktibista at tagapagtanggol ng karapatang pantao! [Let us oppose the collective red-tagging and terror-tagging of Duterte’s fascist regime! Let us denounce the trumped-up charges against activists and human right advocates!]” and the organization called. [P]