After Morong 43 and killing Leonardo Co
Groups condemn ‘martial law’ raid of office, illegal arrests of peasant leader and activists in Camarines Norte

The national farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP, Peasant Movement of the Philippines) and Peasant Network for Land, Justice and Human Rights (Tanggol Magsasaka) strongly condemned the latest abuse of government forces on progressive groups, particularly the illegal and “martial law” style of raiding the office of Karapatan, KMP Camarines Norte and Kabataan Partylist.  The peasant and rights groups also condemned the illegal arrests of a peasant leader, human rights defender, a youth-student activist and a former political prisoner and called for their immediate and unconditional release.  

KMP Bikol repoted that elements of 902nd Infantry Brigade, 9th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army under  and Philippine National Police (PNP) aboard at least 2 military trucks  raided the groups’ office along F Pimentel Ave., Pasig, Brgy II, Daet town on November 22, about 10:30 in the morning.  The raid was executed majorly on coercion without any search nor arrest warrants, barred anyone from going out or in.  

The group of police and military took with them 65-year old and sickly chair of KMP Camarines Norte Smith Bardon, Karapatan human rights defender Denver Bacolod, Mherlo Bermas of Kabataan Partylist and former political prisoner Elpidio De Luna.  Latest report said that Bardon was charged with murder while the others are still awaiting inquest.

“This is unacceptable and enraging as leaders and activists from progressive groups are continuously being targeted and politically persecuted.  The Morong 43, amidst global pressure are yet to be released by president Aquino, the mad and paranoid military and police are adding innocent activists inside the jails,” said Antonio Flores, KMP Spokesperson and Tanggol Magsasaka co-convenor.

“Tatay Smith is already old and a survivor of a stroke, but he was still targeted.  The supposedly warrant of arrest charging him of murder only surfaced when he was already in jail,” Flores added.

KMP believed that the military is pumping up its attack on legal and democratic activists as their image was totally demolished by their blunder on Morong 43 and the killing of top Filipino botanist Leonardo Co.  In addition, the Aquino government continues the perpetration of extra-judicial killings that victimized latest Carlos Rodriguez, leader of government employees union in Calamba and Batangas peasant leader Ireneo Rodriguez.

“The military suffered major damages when they arrested the Morong 43 that even Aquino said was done incorrectly with the use of faulty warrants, then recently the military killed a country’s pride, top botanist Leonardo Co.  The military is idiotically boosting its morale by attacking legal activists,” Flores said.

“Thus, we call on Aquino to shape up his military, the Aquino government has had enough blunders of attacking innocent activists who serve the people.  Otherwise, he is with them in assaulting the people who are struggling for their democratic rights,” he said. 

“We call on the Aquino government the immediate and unconditional release of the ‘Daet 4’ and the stop of these systematic attacks on legal and democratic activists,” Flores called. #

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