State forces illegally arrest NDFP consultant and 4 others

Elements of the military

military and police illegally arrested National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) consultant Adelberto Silva and four others on October 15 at around 2 p.m. in Barangay Pagsawitan, Sta. Cruz, Laguna. Travelling with Silva, 71, were Hedda Calderon, 63, of Gabriela Women’s Party; Ireneo Atadero, 55, of Kilusang Mayo Uno; Ediciel Legazpi, 60, a farmer; and their driver, Julio Lusania, 53.

After blocking and ordering them to alight from their vehicle, the military planted guns, grenades and an improvised claymore mine as evidence. On the next day, they were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The cases against Calderon, Atadero and Legazpi were dismissed and they were temporarily released on October 18.

The NDFP vehemently condemned Silva’s arrest, the designated vice-chairperson of the NDFP Reciprocal Working Committee on Social and Economic Reforms. Fidel Agcaoili, chief peace negotiator of the NDFP, said that Silva and his companions were conducting consultations with various sectors when they were arrested. As consultant, Silva is supposedly protected from surveillance, arrest and harassment under the GRP-NDFP Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees. Meanwhile, on the same day in Misamis Oriental, police officers arrested Alfredo Abao, a member of Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association. Abao was the third peasant leader arrested in the province.

Elements of the 7th ID and police also illegally arrested four activists in Sitio Bangkusay, Barangay Talabutab Norte, Natividad, Nueva Ecija on October 13. The victims were identified as as Yolanda Diamsay Ortiz, 46, of Anakpawis; and Eulalia Ladesma, 44, of Gabriela Women’s Party. They were subjected to interrogation and bore torture marks on their faces. Also arrested were Rachel Galario, 20, and Edzcel Emocling, 23. The four, who were then in the area to give aid to peasants who were hard hit by Typhoon Ompong, were accused of being NPA members. The military also threatened their relatives.

Students of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) mounted successive protest actions in support of their schoolmate, Emocling, and her companions who were arrested. Emocling and Galario were temporarily released on October 16.

On October 17, nine unidentified men arrested Ceasar Carreon, a member of Anakpawis, in Mexico, Pampanga. On October 18, it was reported that Joey Torres Sr., regional peasant organizer of Bayan Muna deployed in Nueva Ecija, was missing for weeks already.