A month after arrest of six peasant organizers in Negros Oriental, Karapatan reiterates call for their release

“The illegal arrest and continuing detention of the six young peasant organizers in Negros Oriental based on trumped up charges filed by soldiers is a classic case of criminalization of political dissent and human rights activism,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, a month after the arrest of the six organizers of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Mabinay, Negros Oriental.

On the evening of March 3, 2018, Joemar Indico, Joey Vailoces, Bernard Guillen, Randel Hermino, Carlo Ybañez, and UP alumna Myles Albasin – all KMP-Negros Oriental organizers – were resting and staying overnight in a peasant’s home in Brgy. Luyang for a consultation with farmers and KMP members the next day, when soldiers under the 62nd Infantry Battalion – Philippine Army (IBPA) called out for those in the said house to surrender.

The military, alleging that the six were members of the New People’s Army (NPA), also threatened to throw a grenade at their direction if they refuse to do as they were told. The six came out and were immediately handcuffed. After a few minutes, the soldiers fired shots in the air to make it appear that an armed encounter occurred in the area. The victims were brought to the Mabinay Police Station where they learned that fabricated charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were being leveled against them, accusations which they vehemently denied.

“When cases are based on the mere say-so of members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or the Philippine National Police, you can be sure that all these are based on pure, unadulterated lies, especially under the Duterte regime where executive officials, including the President, are pathological liars. Their use of labels such as “communists,” “NPAs,” “terrorists,” or “drug users” against individuals and communities are meant to justify the persecution of targeted persons and groups,” Palabay said, adding that most of the 486 political prisoners are charged with the same non-bailable offense to keep them in jail.

“Either that or these soldiers are high on drugs, given their preposterous stories, wild imagination of non-existent guns and explosives, and their staging of a fake encounter ala Rambo,” she further quipped.

Aside from putting the testimonies of the soldiers into question, Karapatan asserted that the guns and explosives allegedly recovered by the 62nd IBPA from the six organizers are all planted evidence. “There is absolutely no proof that these arms were in the possession of the six individuals,” Palabay said.

She added that “these young community organizers, now collectively known as the Mabinay 6, should instead be considered examples for the Filipino youth’s active engagement in development work and social activism.”

“We are one with the families, friends, and fellow activists of the Mabinay 6 in calling for their immediate release from jail. This malicious and despicable practice of State security forces of filing fabricated charges against activists should stop,” Palabay concluded.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580