Farmer groups seek dismissal of charges vs relief volunteers
MANILA, Philippines—Two of farmer groups on Wednesday urged Norzagaray Municipal Trial Court to drop the inciting to sedition charges filed against Sagip Kanayunan relief volunteers.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Tanggol Magsasaka also sought for the dismissal of the usurpation authority case that was filed against former Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao.
According to the groups’ statement, the volunteers, who also were carrying reading materials and publications that criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, were accosted at a checkpoint in Norzagaray, Bulacan on April 9.
Local police confiscated the materials and filed the inciting to sedition rap.
“We fervently urge the good court to junk the remaining charges against the Sagip Kanayunan relief volunteers,” said Tanggol Magsasaka’s Antonio Flores. “The inciting to sedition charge against the volunteers is baseless.”
“Mere possession of publication expressing opinion on the incumbent administration is not a seditious act and not enough to indict anyone. We still have our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. The relief volunteers’ only intent was to distribute aid and relief to farmers.”
Flores said that Casilao’s case was “ludicrous” as the former legislator was only helping the relief volunteers.
He added that Casilao clearly introduced himself as representative of Anakpawis and the coordinator of Sagip Kayanayunan’s national relief drive.
“The cases filed by the Norzagaray PNP are only meant to harass and threaten relief volunteers and organizations expressing discontent with the government’s response to the pandemic,” said Flores.
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