Militant groups march to Mendiola

VARIOUS militant groups today held a rally at the foot of Chino Roces Bridge in Mendiola to demand the immediate and unconditional release of Randy Vegas, Raul Camposano, Rene Abiva and Virgilio Corpuz, and the dropping of trumped up charges against Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara and other leaders and supporters.

The protest action was led by COURAGE, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Karapatan, and the Koalisyon ng Progresibo at Makabayang Mangagawa.

Vegas and Camposano, also known as the COURAGE 2 national staff, were earlier abducted and now illegally detained at Daet, Camarines Norte. Abiva and Corpuz are coordinators for the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and Piston respectively and were arrested and detained in Ifugao. While Roy Velez and Amelita Gamara, are both from the Kilusang Mayo Uno – National Capital Region who are also facing warrants of arrest from the same fabricated cases.

COURAGE National President Ferdinand Gaite revealed since December 3, 2012, Vegas and Camposano are in Daet jail for five counts of murder, one count of frustrated murder and theft from an April 29, 2012 clash between the military and the New Peoples’ Army in Labo, Daet, Camarines Norte.

With the arrest of Abiva and Corpuz, they learned that Vegas, Camposano, Velez and Gamara were also charged with murder this time in connection with the NPA’s alleged ambush of soldiers belonging to the 5th ID in Tinoc, Ifugao on April 25, 2012.

“We condemn this intensifying and blatant attack on our civil and democratic rights. President Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan has targeted leaders, organizers and supporters of legal and progressive groups to silence the growing restiveness of the people.

“The COURAGE 2 (Vegas and Camposano), at that time are assigned to the MMDA employees union who are mounting protest actions for unpaid benefits. The existence of two cases with almost overlapping dates is proof enough of the falsified charges and the objective of ensuring that the two shall be arrested and the protest actions of the employees are derailed”, Gaite stressed.

“People should be alarmed and be vigilant to stem the tide of the increasing number of illegal arrests, abduction, enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings. Human Rights group KARAPATAN has noted that already 28 persons were successively arrested and detained in less than one month, from December 2012 to early January this year. Aside from the Vegas, Camposano, Abiva and Corpuz, those arrested were from Cagayan Valley, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Quezon province”.

Gaite said government employees shall not be cowed into silence and shall instead intensify their protest actions against pay and benefits cuts and political repression. A big nationwide rally is slated to be held on February 13.

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