Rights group says peasant organizers arrested sans warrant
This file photo shows a protester holding a placard that says, "Uphold human rights."
The STAR/KJ Rosales, File

Rights group says peasant organizers arrested sans warrant

Xave Gregorio (Philstar.com) - June 25, 2021 - 4:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — A human rights group reported that the police and military arrested in the wee hours of Friday two peasant organizers without a warrant.

Karapatan said peasant organizers Dana Marie Marcellana and Christian Relao were arrested at around 1 a.m. in their home in Barangay San Diego in San Pablo City, Laguna even if they did not carry search or arrest warrants.

The rights group said the two were taken to the San Pablo City district jail and were charged with rebellion and illegal possession of firearms.

The San Pablo police station and the Provincial Intelligence Branch of Laguna police confirmed to Philstar.com that Marcellana and Relao, who are provincial organizers of Katipunan ng Samahang Magbubukid sa Timog Katagalugan in Quezon and Laguna, were indeed arrested.

But they cannot say whether the two were arrested without a warrant and cannot say what charges they are facing.

Laguna police’s PIB said the military took the lead in the operation and merely coordinated with police.

Laguna police information chief Chitadel Gaoiran told Philstar.com that she will still verify the arrests of Marcellana and Relao and if they were arrested without warrants.

The Marcellana family has been at the receiving end of attacks even during the administration of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Karapatan said, when Dana’s mother, Eden, was abducted and killed.

Her father, Orly, meanwhile, has been receiving threats since the killing of his wife, Karapatan said.

Arrests in Bohol, too

Karapatan also reported that Farmers Development Center’s program coordinator for Bohol Carmilo Tabada and United Church of Christ in the Philippines pastor Nathaniel Vallente were also arrested Friday in Bohol.

It said that Tabada, whose organization has been tagged as a front organization for communist rebels, was arrested at 1 a.m., with his family asserting that the police and the military planted firearms and explosives when their home was raided.

Meanwhile, it said that Vallente was arrested at 3 a.m., with a firearm and a grenade allegedly being planted on him.

“Clearly, their arrests are part of a systemic and desperate crackdown on dissent under the guise of the Duterte government’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.

Members of progressive groups have been targets of similar operations in recent months and are usually charged with illegal possession of explosives and firearms, which they claim to have been planted on them.

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