Bayan insists: Our QC office not a rebel safehouse, not a firearms storage facility
MANILA, Philippines – Militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has insisted that their office in Quezon City, which houses several organizations, is neither a safehouse for communist rebels nor a storage facility for firearms and explosives.
This statement on Tuesday came after Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr. said that there are several search warrants issued last October 30 by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 89 Judge Cecilyn Burgos Villavert, six of which have already been implemented.
Villavert is the same RTC judge who authorized police and military teams to search Bayan Muna and Gabriela offices in Negros Occidental and the Bayan office in Tondo, Manila.
“Our office in Quezon City is publicly known, often visited by the media, and by anyone who wishes assistance from the various organizations in the building. Workers, farmers, Martial Law victims, often visit our offices for various reasons. It is also very close to City Hall, the barangay hall and a police station,” Reyes said.
“Our office is many things and does many functions. However: It is NOT an underground safehouse for rebels. It is NOT a storage facility for guns, ammunition and explosives. It is NOT a drug den or laboratory. It is NOT a training facility for rebels,” he stressed.
The warrants issued by Villavert were also pointed out by Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, who said that there may be more search orders to come.
“If all the search warrants issued by Judge Burgos-Villavert from No. 5944 to No. 5953 are for offices and homes of members of people’s and human rights organizations, then we are looking at more raids in the coming hours or days,” she said.
Reyes meanwhile noted that there is no reason for any judge to probe the militant group’s offices as there is no evidence that they are involved in the affairs of communist rebels.
“There is NO probable cause to issue a search warrant against people in these premises. Anyone who says otherwise, who claims there are illegal activities taking place, is lying and has no evidence to back up his claims,” Reyes said.
“Any judge who believes in such wild theories claiming to be intelligence reports, is doing the nation, and the Judiciary, a great disservice. You will be complicit in the commission of human rights violations. You have betrayed your oath. And someday, you will be held to account for your misdeeds,” he added.
At the onset of President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, militant groups have enjoyed good relations with the government, with Reyes and other group members invited into Malacañang, and after the appointment of top activists into Cabinet posts.
However, ties turned sour after the groups criticized the administration for its war against illegal drugs, and for its failure to end decades of armed struggle between government forces and communist rebels.
Duterte, for his part, claimed that he was keen to talk about the peace process until rebels ambushed police and military teams despite a ceasefire.
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