Bayan Muna, Gabriela offices in Bacolod raided by military, police — Zarate
MANILA, Philippines – Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate said on Thursday evening that combined forces of the police and military have raided the regional offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) in Bacolod, Negros Occidental.
According to information from Zarate, elements from the Philippine Army wrongly alleged that 57 persons, including 10 minors were undergoing firearms and explosive training in the offices.
“[The] Army also claims firearms and explosives seized. Unknown number also nabbed at NFSW office,” Zarate said in a message to reporters.
However, the lawmaker said this is merely a harassment of progressive groups critical of the government policies, adding that the raid was conducted at a certain time when courts are closed, as the persons apprehended cannot challenge their arrest.
“Bayan Muna strongly condemns the dastardly Gestapo-like raid still being simultaneously conducted by state forces against the offices of Bayan Muna, Gabriela and NFSW in Bacolod, Negros Occidental,” he said.
“They conducted the raid at night before a long weekend so as to ensure that the courts are closed tomorrow so that the planted pieces evidence and subsequent trumped-up charges filed cannot immediately be challenged,” he noted.
Bayan Muna showed a copy of the search warrant used by the officers, which came from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 89, where it was said that there is probable cause to believe that firearms and explosive were stored at the office in Bacolod, therefore violating Republic Act No. 10591 or the Comprehensive Firearms and Ammunition Regulation Act.
Another progressive group, Karapatan, has slammed the raids, insisting that the groups were operating legally and are “baselessly” accused as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA).
“We stand with these organizations and assert that these attacks are acts of reprisal for the campaigns and criticisms raised by these organizations against the government’s failures,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
“All three organizations are operating legally, and to allege that they are “legal fronts” of the Communist Party of the Philippines is baseless. Lest we remind this government, freedom of association and the right to petition the government for redress are enshrined in the Constitution,” she added.
This is not the first time that state forces and members of progressive groups have clashed. Members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, including their high-ranking officials, have consistently accused the militant groups of supporting rebel forces, specifically the NPA.
Zarate and other group leaders, meanwhile, have maintained that the red-tagging is just retaliation for their move to criticize the government of President Rodrigo Duterte, specifically its policies that have affected the poor like the drug war and the tax reform measures. /jpv
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.