Relatives seek probe of ‘violent’ arrest of green activist
LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines —Relatives of an environmental advocate who was arrested over rebellion charges in Pakil, Laguna, on Saturday have sought an investigation of what they described as the questionable manner of her arrest.
“We are calling on the Commission on Human Rights … the Philippine National Police, the media, and concerned authorities to give clarity and justice on the merciless, inhumane and violent treatment and arrest of my relative due to her opposition to the Ahunan dam project,” Ciriaco Gonzales, nephew of activist Vertudez “Daisy” Macapanpan, said in an online interview Monday.
On Wednesday morning, an open letter written by Macapanpan was posted on the Facebook page of “Free Daisy Macapanpan Network.”
“While they have succeeded in taking my mugshot, my fingerprints and while a sign is displayed in front of me showing different names and trumped-up charges, they have failed in suppressing my spirit and determination to fight for my right to free expression and to live with integrity,” Macapanpan said in Filipino.
Macapanpan, 69, a former University of the Philippines Baguio instructor, said her imprisonment and harassment was just a temporary setback in her fight to oppose the construction of the dam in her town.
“This imprisonment is severe harassment. We believe that the proponents of the dam project have something to do with it. My only purpose is to join the people of Pakil, Laguna, in opposing the construction of the huge dam in the mountains of Pakil,” she added.
The dam will be built on Mt. Inumpog in the Sierra Madre mountain ranges.
Residents feared that the project would lead to massive cutting of trees that would result in severe flooding and landslides in local communities and destruction of the environment.
On June 12, the Quezon police reported Macapanpan’s arrest by a team of policemen and soldiers in Barangay Burgos, Pakil, at 4 p.m. the previous day. The team, it said, was armed with an arrest warrant for one “Vertudez D. Macapanpan Gonzales” alias “Lola Kits,” “Tyan,” “Tian,” “Lola Marsha,” “Daisy” and “Dits.”
Macapanpan is facing a rebellion case filed in the Regional Trial Court Branch 65 in Infanta, Quezon, on May 23, 2008, and its revised version dated March 4, 2013, police said.
A police report tagged the warrant’s subject as a suspected member of the Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
The military also tagged “Vertudes D. Macapanpan Gonzales” as a “high-ranking CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) personality in the Southern Tagalog region.”
Gonzales claimed that the government team arrested his aunt without a warrant or any document.
But Lt. Jo Alvarez, General Nakar police chief, denied this, saying, “We cannot affect the arrest without it.”
Macapanpan, Alvarez said, is being treated well while under police custody in General Nakar.
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