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PNP confirms arrest of Anakbayan Naga chairperson

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
PNP confirms arrest of Anakbayan Naga chairperson
Photo release shows Naga City police outside the house of Anakbayan Naga Chairperson Sasah Sta. Rosa.
Release / PNP PIO

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 2:14 p.m.)  — The national police confirmed Sunday the arrest of Anakbayan Naga City chairperson Sasah Sta. Rosa at her home.

In a statement sent to reporters, Police Gen. Debold Sinas said that Sta. Rosa is now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of Camarines Sur for investigation and filing of cases for alleged violations of the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act and Illegal possession of explosives—a charge that many other activists face.

Separate reports from Anakbayan said that armed SWAT and uniformed personnel stormed the 21-year-old youth leader's residence at three in the morning. The official police report left out the time of the arrest. 

Sta. Rosa's family, they said, was forced out of the home as a search of their house ensued. Police took around 40 minutes to finish their search.  

The group added that the activist and her family were all made to lie on the ground before the search warrant was presented to them. 

Sinas said that the group was acting on a search warrant signed by Judge Edgar Armes of the Legazpi City Regional Trial Court. 

Activist red-tagged in official police report

Police reports also red-tagged the youth leader, calling her an "alleged member of the communist underground movement." It is not clear what the basis of this claim is, but police frequently conflate members of progressive groups with armed rebels. 

The same report also claimed that the following items were seized during the arrest:

  • One (1) Unit of Cal 9mm pistol with Marking of STAR Becheveras Fibar-Espana;
  • One (1) Magazine for 9MM Pistol;
  • Eight (8) pcs live ammunition for Cal. 9mm;
  • One (1) Fragmented Hand Grenade;
  • One (1) Improvised IED
  • Switch with Inserted 9V Battery;
  • Two (2) pieces 9V Battery;
  • One (1) Seven 7 and 1/2 Red Cord (Time Fuse);
  • One (1) Book with Cover Page of Batayang Kurso ng Partido;
  • One (1) Black Shirt with Markings "Rebolusyon Hindi Eleksyon"; and
  • One (1) Green Envelope containing other Documents.

Late-night raids on progressive leaders to search homes and offices for firearms and explosives has become common under the Duterte administration.

Rights groups both here and abroad have said that there is "damning evidence" that personnel of the national police plant evidence during arrests to justify their crackdown on activists and on government critics. 

Others raids have resulted in the killings of activists, with cops saying they violently resisted arrest.

BAYAN Bicol officer nabbed

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Bicol Secretary General Dan Balucio was also arrested at his home in Sto. Domingo, Albay at four in the morning Sunday.

"The PNP anti-criminality campaign will continue to intensify its measures and strategies with the help and support of the public, to arrest persons who pose a threat to the peace and order of the community," Sinas said.

Police, in a separate report, also referred to the 61-year-old as "an alleged member of local communist group." It is unclear where the allegations came from or what they are based on. 

"Balucio, including the recovered pieces of evidence are presently at the custody of CIDG Albay [Provincial Field Unit] and case is being prepared against the arrested person," the statement by Sinas said.

The charges held against him were the same and the search warrant for the operation was signed by the same judge. 

Police claimed to find the following in Balucio's possession:

  • one (1) unit of REMINGTON BRAND INC. cal. 45 pistol with Serial No. 9658 inserted with a stainless steel magazine containing seven (7) pcs of Cal. 45 ammunitions
  • one (1) black holster for pistol/short firearm
  • two (2) steel magazines for M14 containing sixteen (16) and eight (8) ammunition Cal. 7.62
  • one (1) unit of fragmantation hand grenade inside a black canister and
  • one (1) red Bagong Hukbong Bayan flag.

"The search operation was conducted in an orderly manner and duly witnessed by Punong Barangay Boogie Balila and Barangay Kagawad Napoleon Sardinia, both residents of the above mentioned barangay," Sinas' statement read. 

"The PNP will continue to confiscate loose firearms which can be used for illegal activities," Sinas said.

ANAKBAYAN

PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE

PNP

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