Illegal arrests of 7 activists near Malacañang Palace hit

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SEVEN young members of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay) under its national office were ‘illegally’ arrested by police authorities yesterday as the group aimed to hold a candle lighting protest at the gate of Malacañang Palace for the victims of Typhoon Pablo (Bopha) that hit the Southern Philippines two months ago last December 4.

Kadamay national national chairperson Gloria ‘Ka Bea’ Arellano said authorities from Station 8 of the Manila Police District (MPD) ‘illegally’ arrested their members even before they were able to stage their protest.

At 9am, Kadamay members Rodel Adiao, 17 years old;  Jonaliyn Adiao, 19; Harley Largo, 21; Christian Concepcion, 22; John Dick Austria, 22; Val Jayson Dimayuga, 26; and Rudy Aparil, 26 were brought to the MPD headquarters along United Nations Avenue in Manila, following arrests which created a sudden public disturbance by the gate of Malacanan Palace in Mendiola.

MPD earlier planned to file cases of ‘illegal assembly’ against the arrested rallyists, but dismissed the plan later. Kadamay contested their members had not committed any assembly, and only created commotions as the police started to arrest one militant after another at around 8:30am. Some of the militants were even escorted by the police out of a food chain near the Palace Gate.

“The action of the MPD is tantamount to illegal arrests and an abuse of authority,” said Arellano.

To silence critiques

According to Kadamay, the attack this morning against their members is part of the Aquino government’s Oplan Bayanihan which aims to silence critiques of the administration to maintain a positive image propped up by its Daang Matuwid-Good Governance political gimmickry.

“Our members were treated as criminals, handcuffed and forced to enter into a police mobile, while the real criminal lurks in the Palace, who is responsible for the killings of some 2,000 Filipinos as Typhoon Pablo battered the provinces in Southern Mindanao last December,” said Arellano.

The arrested Kadamay members where held for more than four hours at the MPD headquarters. Supporters from other militant groups under Bagong Alyansang Makabayan who on the same morning staged another protest at US Embassy quickly held an indignation rally outside the police headquarters, forcing authorities to free the arrested militants at around 1pm.

“Authorities cannot silence militants who tried to expose Aquino’s direct involvement in the outcome of the Pablo Tragedy. We condemn this efforts of the authorities this morning which is no different from the filing of charges against organizers of the Jan. 15 protest rally by more than 5,000 typhoon victims in Montevista, Compostela Valley, who are demanding more aid and a stop to logging,” said Arellano.

Last January 29, eight individuals identified as organizers of the protest rally in Compostela Valley have been charged with public disorder and other offenses at a municipal prosecutor’s office. The other cases filed against the eight are alarm and scandal, public disturbance and unlawful utterances.

Crimes against the Filipino people

“We will not stop until President Aquino is made accountable for the crime he committed against the Filipino people due to his penchant of foreign logging and mining companies which have literally lain thousands of poor Filipinos in their graveyard,” warned the leader.

Kadamay claimed that Aquino has intensified the logging and mining operations in Southern Mindanao since he assumed his office. Under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement, the Aquino administration has legalized operations of 16 big logging companies in the country.

Among these 16 companies, Matuguina Integrated Wood Products Inc, Picop Resources Inc and La Fortuna Mahogany Inc. have operated in 82,443 hectares of forest lands in municipalities of Baganga, Cateel, Caraga and Manay in Davao Oriental–the areas where the worst impact of Typhoon Pablo was felt.

Kadamay added that Aquino should also be made accountable for his Executive Order 79 which intensified large-scale mining operations of foreign companies in the country, and aggravated the negative effects of Mining Act of 1995 to the environment.

Massive land conversion under the Aquino administration which turned farmlands and forests into big banana and coconut plantations for export has also diminished the capacity of Mindanao terrains to withstand natural calamities, the group claimed.

“How many thousands of lives more will be lost due to Aquino’s puppetry to foreign capitalists who plunder our natural resources?” asked Arellano who looked back at the aftermath of Sendong (Tropical Storm Washi) which left more than a thousand urban poor Filipinos dead after the denuded mountains in Mindanao created big flash floods that hit Cagayan de Oro and Iligan city in December 2011.

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