Between Oct. 23 and Nov. 4, 2008, May First Movement [Kilusan Mayo Uno (KMU)] Legal Counsel Remigio Saladero, Jr., and three local leaders of people's organizations were arrested in four different incidents. The three include Nestor San Jose of Anak Pawis party list and PISTON, Crispin Zapanta of Bayan Muna party list, Rogelio Galit, a peasant leader from Anak Pawis party list. On November 6, Arnaldo Seminiano of KMU was also arrested and detained.
All five men, plus 67 others, all in all including 30 leaders of people's organizations, are in a repeatedly amended list charging them with various non-bailable criminal offences of multiple murders, frustrated multiple murders, and arson around the burning by the New People's Army (NPA) of the Globe Telecom cell site in Lemery, Batangas Aug. 2 this year and their ambush of the military in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental in Mar. 3, 2006.
That the charges are absurd should need no stating. Generally speaking, why would leaders of legal organizations have to be involved in planning NPA actions when the NPA are more than capable of that themselves? More specifically, how could a very busy legal counsel for KMU and law professor have time to involve himself in such stuff? Finally, how could a sick and bedridden man be involved in such actions? Only an organization like the Philippine government and its illegitimate President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA), could be so contemptuous of people that they could imagine they could pull such a fast one.
That might be why, as provincial prosecutor Josephine Caranzo-Olivar admitted October 27, 2008 in a court proceeding regarding Atty. Saladero's case that no preliminary investigation was conducted when the names of the 71 were added to the amended information. No inquiry was held to determine if there was probable cause because it was all foolishly made up. Add to that, those in the list were not informed that they were on such lists.
So what we have here is the criminalization of dissent made possible by a total lack of due process.
In addition, the list includes 8 of the 9 grassroots activists who were abducted and tortured last August 31, 2008 in Tartaria, Cavite by elements of the Calabarzon Philippine National Police's (PNP) Regional Special Operations Group. Also included in the complaint are other human rights victims themselves such as Arman Albarillo, who lost both his parents after they were murdered by military forces, and Orly Marcellana, who's wife Eden Marcellana (Karapatan ST Secretary General) was killed in Mindoro by soldiers under Gen. Jovito Palparan. Albarillo has been a consistent complainant in the impeachment cases filed against Mrs. Gloria Arroyo.
Arrests like these are not new. Those of us living in Canada remember the case of Representative Satur Ocampo. Last spring, Canada was graced by the visit of Rep. Ocampo for Bayan Muna party list, the late Rep. Crispin Beltran for Anak Pawis party list and Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan for Gabriella Women's party list. These three honoured congresspersons toured the major cities of Canada to meet with overseas Filipinos and Canadians to update them on the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines. The highpoint of the tour was a presentation to the Standing Committee of the Canadian Parliament. Many parliamentarians expressed their concerns at the continuing violations of human rights in the Philippines. And as if to underline this point, even before Rep. Ocampo had left Canada, the Philippine Government had charged him with multiple murders. Rep. Ocampo continues to battle such harassment.
The difference this time is that the government is using mass arrests. As Bayan-Canada Chairperson Dr. Chandu Claver explains, "They had thought that they could terrorize the Filipino people into silence by abducting (like James Balao and 192 others) and killing the leaders and activists (like Alice Omengan and 909 other martyrs). But this bloody campaign has failed very miserably. Now they are resorting to trying to stifle the voice of the people through the mass arrests of the people's leaders using grossly bogus charges of non-bailable offenses. Mass arrests and persecution have always been in the gruesome toolbox of modern despots from Hitler, to Marcos. With this new move, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is striving very hard to join that ignominious league."
- the release of all political prisoners
- all politically motivated and trumped up charges against the leaders and members of people's organizations be dropped
- the thorough investigation of all political killings and disappearances in the Philippines and the prosecution and punishment of all those guilty of such no matter how high they may be placed in the state
- Canadian Members of Parliament denounce the use by the GMA regime of mass arrests to silence opposition