Bayan Muna claims 2 activists abducted in Bulacan
MANILA, Philippines — Bayan Muna chair Neri Colmenares claimed on Monday that two urban poor activists who were campaigning for the group’s re-election in Congress were forcibly taken in Angat, Bulacan.
In a statement, the former lawmaker speculated that the government forces were behind the abduction of John Griefen Arlegui, 20, and Reynaldo Remias Jr., 24, Sunday morning.
The two activists were placing campaign posters of Bayan Muna and Colmenares, who is seeking a Senate seat in the 2019 midterm elections, along the Angat-Pandi road when the incident happened.
“We condemn this abduction of our campaigners. We suspect state agents to be behind it. They are the only ones with the motive and capability to do this, as they have done in the past,” Colmenares said.
“The AFP and the PNP have continuously harassed our organizations and have been identified in numerous abductions of our members and volunteers in the area, like those of Joey Torres, UP students Karen Empeno and Sherlyn Cadapan, and Jonas Burgos, all of whom remain missing till this day,” he added.
Bayan Muna said that witnesses from the urban poor group Kadamay claimed Arlegui and Remias were held at gunpoint by armed men in plain clothes near the Iglesia ni Cristo church in Barangay Sta. Cruz in Angat. They were allegedly forced inside a red car without a license plate.
Colmenares accused the government of using state forces to intimidate progressive groups and opposition candidates who have criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration.
“The Duterte government is using the AFP and PNP to harass, intimidate and silence progressive and opposition candidates who are at the forefront of exposing the failures and anomalies of the administration and in giving our people alternatives,” he said.
“We call on our uniformed personnel to disobey orders for them to abduct, intimidate, harass or publicly vilify progressive and opposition candidates. Those are prohibited acts and not part of your job,” he added.
Progressive groups and law enforcement agencies have been at odds with officials from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), saying that party-list organizations like Bayan Muna have established links with the communist insurgency in the country.
The Makabayan bloc, on the other hand, denounced the red-tagging of progressive organizations by the AFP and the PNP to silence critics. It said the acts also involved profiling teachers from unions, charging lawmakers for allegedly trumped-up charges, and arresting members of the peace panel. /ee
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