Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog activists harassed by military, trumped up cases

An Aeta chieftain in Pampanga is being harassed by elements of Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu) and by an official of the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army.

Nelson I. Mallari, 36 years old, and a resident of Madapdap Resettlement

Nelson Mallari, an Aeta tribes leader allgedly being harassed by the military due to accusations of being a communist rebel.

Nelson Mallari, an Aeta tribes leader allgedly being harassed by the military due to accusations of being a communist rebel.

Mabalacat Pampanga, a community organizer and, concurrently, the Secretary-General of the Central Luzon Aeta Association (CLAA) and a member of the National Council of Leaders of the one of the largest federation of indigenous people’s organization, Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (Kamp), has suffered harassment from his own brother, Rafael, a CAFGU and by certain Sgt. Santos of the 3rd IB since July 1.

Accused of being an NPA

Mallari is said to be in an order of battle released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

In a fact sheet provided by the Kamp national office in Quezon City, it says around 6:00 PM of the said date, Mallari is about to go home from bird hunting when he saw two military men standing in-front of his brother Rafael’s house.

Knowing that these men are about to arrest him, he proceeded to his uncle’s house nearby to report the incident.

After sometime, his brother Rafael approached him and said that he should surrender to the military and clear his name of allegations of being a supporter of the NPA and the Communist Party.

His brother warned him of an impending, forceful arrest if he did not go with him, and he maybe brought by arresting officers to an army detachment in Babo Pangulo, Porac, Pampanga for tactical interrogation.

His other brother, Manuel, told the victim that a civilian clothed military man is waiting at his house, looking for him.

Mallari, afraid of being victimized by extrajudicial killing or enforced disappearance, refused to go both to Manuel’s house and with his brother, Rafael.

In the course of their conversation, the fact sheet read, Mallari saw that Rafael is carrying a gun, tucked in his back and under his shirt. This made Mallari more fearful of his life.

Because of this, the victim sought the help of their barangay (village) councilor, Taktak Laxamana, to ease off the possible reaction of his “arresting” officers.

While waiting for Laxamana to come back, a soldier in civilian clothing called Rafael and said that they have to leave and will just go back the next day to pick up Nelson.

After that, Rafael goes back to Nelson and told him not to go anywhere for the military will return the next day to get him.

Feeling unsafe if he remains in Pampanga, Mallari flees to an undisclosed place, leaving his family and the community he is organizing.

“Old music”

But accusations against Mallari are not new.

In a research made by this reporter, he found out that in September 15, 2006, around 1:30 PM, Mallari, together with his companions, Leonardo Serrano and Andres Dacanay, were arrested by the members ofthe Philippine National Police’s Regional Special Action Force (PNP-RSAF) at a checkpoint in San Marcelino, Zambales.

In a report from Karapatan (National Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights), Mallari, Serrano and Dacanay, came from a meeting with members and officers of left-leaning Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), when they were arrested.

They were brought to Camp Magsaysay in the town of Castillejos, Zambales, but report of charges filed against them were never made.

Earlier, in June 2006, Mallari was flagged down in a military check point and then brought to a military camp. He was subjected to tactical interrogations and was forced to admit that he is a membe or a sympathizer of the NPA and that his organization, CLAA, is a front of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

Nelson has repeatedly denied the allegation and asserted that he was a civilian, a member of legal mass organization and he is not affiliated in any armed organization.

Harassments, trumped up cases vs. activists in Southern Tagalog

Meanwhile, the Bayan-Southern Tagalog calls its members to be vigilantagainst possible arrests and even abductions by state agents, as the Arroyo government might be engaged in an all-out effort to pacify protests in the coming State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 27.

This is in connection of a case unearthed by Karapatan-ST, also a member organization of Bayan, pending in a trial court in Rodriguez, Rizal.

The case pertained to a purported shooting incident against three soldiers last November 14, 2008 in Rodriguez town in Rizal, allegedly by NPA guerrillas. The case is filed by undisclosed petitioners, and the respondents are prominent leaders of leftist organizations in the region.

Aimed to “neutralize” leftist organizations in the region Bayan-ST deputy secretary-general Christine Macabetcha said, in a statement sent to this reporter, she believes that the case is part of a series of attempts by the Arroyo government to neutralize legitimate militant organizations by criminalizing and incarcerating its members.

Karapatan-ST deputy secretary-general Glen Malabanan, stated that the case involved 28 respondents who are also a part of the famous ST 72 case, which was junked by the court due to lack of merit.

The ST 72 case is about the alleged murders and frustrated murder charges against the members of the military by the communist guerillas in Oriental Mindoro. This is in connection with a tactical operation held in March 3, 2006.

Arrested for the case were labor lawyer, Remigio Saladero Jr. (who is purportedly abducted, not arrested by members of the Intelligence Service of the AFP or Isafp, in his house in Antipolo City); labor activists, Emmanuel Dioneda, Arnaldo Seminiano and Leonardo Arceta; Rogelio Galit, chairperson of the peasant group Kamagsasaka-Kabite; urban poor leader Nestor San Jose; and Crispin Zapanta of regional office of Bayan Muna.

The seven were released last February 5 after the court dismissed the information that included them and several other activists in the case.

However, in the Rodriguez case, Dioneda and Arceta are included as respondents.

Inconsistencies

Malabanan insists all of these cases are fabricated and baseless. She said the information in the case is inconsistent.

Particularly, she points out, that Dioneda was arrested November 13 in line with the Mindoro case, and the shooting purportedly happened in November 14.

She also said that some of the respondents to the Rodriguez case were attending a hearing at the Batangas City Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for another case filed against them on the day of shooting incident.

“The Rodriguez case, like what happened in the Mindoro [case], did not go through the proper procedure of having a preliminary investigation first, before reaching a resolution by the Prosecutor’s Office. It is now on its way to the court, without the respondents knowing that there is even such a case against them. The court will release arrest warrants after it receives the resolution,” she explained.

IALAG has something to do with this

Macabetcha believes that the dismantled Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) has something to do with the Rodriguez case.

The IALAG was dislodged last May 15 upon the recommendation of the

United Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial and other rights’ violations. Professor Philip Alston. Alston visited the Philippines in 2007.

Bayan-ST said the IALAG was formed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2006 as part of her Oplan Bantay Laya, the anti-insurgency program of the administration. Its sole purpose is to fabricate criminal cases against members of militant and progressive groups critical to the government.

Organizations are tagged as CPP front organizations and leaders or members are either sued or having arbitrarily arrested, Bayan-ST said.

“I believe, that the dismantling of the IALAG was just for ‘show’, and that the Arroyo government is continuing its dire efforts to criminalize legitimate organizations critical of the government and its policies. On the other hand, we were not surprised by the Rodriguez case especially since it came out at a time when a big anti-Arroyo rally on SONA is brewing,” Macabetcha said.

She added, the timing of this case (in Rodriguez) is meant to suppress protests in the region. And it will most likely be used against our scheduled ‘Lakbayan’ (people’s march) which will culminate on the day of the SONA.

On July 13, Bayan-ST will start their two-week campaign starting July 13. It will showcase a six-day protest-march from the provinces of CALABARZON (Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon) to the National Capital Region.

The protest-march, which will start on July 22, is intended to encourage people to join or hold protests before and during SONA.

“The Lakbayan will be a protest against Arroyo’s more than 8 years as president, and efforts to perpetuate her in power through charter change. All our members and allied organizations are enjoined to continue with their work while maintaining vigilance and taking precautionary measures. We will prove to the Arroyo regime that they will not succeed in their attempt to suppress the true voice of the people,” she said.  (Dateline Philippines)