The militant Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Tanggol Magsasaka (Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights) called for the immediate release of Dario Tomada, former peasant leader of Samahan han Gudti nga Parag-uma ha Sinirangan Bisayas (Sagupa-SB, KMP Eastern Visayas) who was arrested July 22, about 11pm in Biñan, Laguna by agents of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).  He is being charged of multiple murder (15 counts of murder) that allegedly took place in Inopacan, Leyte in 1985 and now being detained at Camp Karingal in Quezon City.

“Ka Dario is an internal refugee who went to Manila in early 2005 as activists in Eastern Visayas were being killed when Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan based in the region.  He is a victim of Oplan Bantay Laya where if you are not a victim of extra-judicial killings, you would be accused of trumped-up charges,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka co-convenor.

The groups said that Tomada were able to call his wife, Amelita Tomada on July 23 when he was brought to Camp Crame.  His wife then informed Sagupa-SB who subsequently informed the KMP national office.  Mrs. Tomada arrived yesterday and coordinated with KMP leaders and human rights advocates.

The groups went to Camp Crame and discovered that he is being detained temporarily at Camp Karingal to be transferred to Leyte.

According to Tanggol Magsasaka based on Tomada’s accounts, he was arrested July 22 late evening by agents of ISAFP and was brought blindfolded to Camp Aguinaldo about 12 midnight, followed by an interrogation that lasted about 30 minutes.  He remained blindfolded and continuously slapped.  He was fed with “tapsilog” which he said was contaminated with a certain drug that made him sweat cold, his stomach aching and felt like overdosed with a drug.  

The following morning about 6am, he was again interrogated by 4 agents who offered him a sum of money in exchange of pinpointing people who are based in Luzon.  The agents are also trying to connect him with KMP which he denied.  He affirmed that he left Eastern Visayas as he was being hunted and looked for work in Manila.  While he was being questioned, he was tortured by squeezing his chest and twisting his ears.  He remained blindfolded until 3pm.  

Afterwards he was transferred to Camp Crame at the Criminal Investigation Detection Group – National Capital Region where he was booked and fingerprints taken.  He was transferred to Camp Karingal at about 6pm.

KMP said that Tomada’s case is part of the Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya program which objective is to accuse activists with fabricated charges, if not being victimized with extra-judicial killings.  The group also said that Eastern Visayas suffered 126 cases of extra-judicial killings and 27 cases of enforced disappearances, including the killing of agrarian lawyer Atty. Felidito Dacut on March 14, 2005.

As activists in Eastern Visayas were being systematically killed during Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan’s basing, Tomada seeked refuge in Manila and worked odd jobs to support his family in Kanangga, Leyte.  On March 6, 2007, the Hilongos Regional Trial Court issued a warrant of arrest against Prof. Jose Maria Sison, Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and others, that included Tomada’s name.  A reward of P150,000 was offered by the military for his arrest.  He was arrested 11pm in Biñan, Laguna while working as parking attendant at a local restaurant.

KMP, Sagupa-SB and Tanggol Magsasaka are now preparing to drum up Tomada’s case as part of the continuing persecution of activists.  They are calling for an end to Oplan Bantay Laya, as well as the withdrawal of trumped-up charges accused on peasant leaders and activists and their immediate releases.

“Ka Dario is innocent of the crime accused to him, he is actually a victim, a refugee who fought for genuine land reform.  We would continue to call for his immediate release and we are calling president Noynoy Aquino to release all political prisoners,” called Flores. #

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