Negros arrests: Cops free 31 of 42 activists
BACOLOD CITY—Thirty-one of the 42 people arrested at the offices of progressive groups in Bacolod and Escalante cities last week were released from detention on Wednesday.
Indicted, however, were the remaining 11 who were among those rounded up in raids conducted by the police and military on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.
The Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office found no sufficient basis to indict the 31 who were merely at the Bacolod offices of Bayan Muna, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and women’s group Gabriela.
Among the 31 released, 21 were at the KMU office for consultation on labor concerns.
Of the 11 indicted, four were charged only with illegal possession of firearms but may post bail: Mary Anne Krueger, correspondent of alternative media outfit Paghimutad and organizer of the BPO Industry Employees Network; John Milton Lozande, NFSW secretary general; and NFSW leaders Roberto Lachica and Danilo Tabura.
The rest are facing charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives: Romulo Bito-on, Bayan Muna party list leader; Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Negros organizers Mermalyn Bito-on and Albert de la Cerna; KMU spokesperson Noli Rosales; Proceso Quiatchon, Karapatan Negros regional coordinator; Cheryl Catalogo and Karina de la Cerna.
Possession of explosives is a nonbailable offense.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, staff from the Ibon International office in Quezon City said they received a call from the police that authorities may conduct an “ocular inspection” in their building, which also houses independent news organization Altermidya. —CARLA P. GOMEZ WITH A REPORT FROM MARIEJO S. RAMOS
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