Gov’t now linking activists to drugs–group says
LOS BAÑOS, Laguna – Several activists in Southern Tagalog are being linked to drug cases, according to the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Southern Tagalog.
Two of the group’s members were arrested over drug-related charges in January, said Bayan-ST spokesman Leo “XL” Fuentes, who added that “this seems to be the state forces’ newest strategy – they file criminal charges, particularly drugs [related cases], against members of militant groups to justify illegal arrest and detention.”
Fuentes’ group trooped to the town hall Thursday to seek the release of Ricardo Brown, 42, and Robinson dela Cruz, 30, who marked their 100th day in detention.
On January 4, Brown, a utility worker at the International Rice Research Institute, and tricycle driver Dela Cruz were arrested in their homes in Sitio (sub-village) Sipit, Barangay (village) Batong Malake, here.
Police reports said the two, who are neighbors, were arrested after they were caught selling three sachets of shabu (methamphetamine hydrochloride).
Bayan-ST maintained that the arrest was politically-motivated as both Brown and Dela Cruz actively opposed the construction of a culvert over a creek near Trace College, and which would displace them and several other families.
Andrianne Mark Ng, secretary general of Bayan-ST, said another case of activists linked to drug cases, is that of Kenneth Reyes, 27, village chief of Maguihan in Lemery and chair of Bayan-Batangas, who was shot dead by unidentified men on April 11.
“For one, it takes time before the [drug] case prospers, which gives [the police] reason to hold [the suspects] longer in detention. Two, it tarnishes the name of the organization. Let’s say the court dismisses the case later on, our members would still have [criminal] records,” Ng said.
Los Baños police chief Superintendent Dante Novicio on Friday denied politics behind the arrest of Brown and dela Cruz, saying their records showed that the two were known shabu peddlers and were under police surveillance before they were arrested.
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