Philippines: community-based defenders arrested, their houses simultaneously raidedEvent
- Initial Date
- May 6, 2021
- Event Description
With the retirement of Police Chief Gen. Debold Sinas and with his birthday today, May 8, human rights group Karapatan believes that the recent series of arrests of activists is the general’s despedida.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, made this statement after four individuals were arrested on May 6 in the Southern Tagalog region. The day before, Karapatan alerted the public after receiving information that another series of police and military raids in Southern Tagalog is in the offing.
According to information received by Karapatan, on the night of May 5, search warrants were issued against 15 individuals. These search warrants were first denied by the courts prior to the May 7 incident, said Palabay. But these were eventually reapplied in different local courts and may have been approved resulting in the arrest of four people on Southern Tagalog on May 6.
These individuals, according to Palabay, are among the 15 people.
Among those arrested on May 6 were Gary Doroteo, a Dumagat from Tanay, Rizal who is opposing the Kaliwa/Kanan Laiban Dam and was arrested in his home in barangay Sta. Ines, Tanay, Rizal; Benito Lucio, president of the Integrated Association of Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries and former president of the Anakpawis chapter in Rodriguez, Rizal, who was arrested together with his wife; and Loreto Balino was also arrested in his home in General Nakar, Quezon.
Prior to this, on May 2, Pastor Dan Balucio, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bicol, and Maria Jesusa “Sasah” Sta. Rosa, Jovenes Anakbayan spokesperson, were also arrested in simultaneous police raids in Bicol region.
According to Karapatan, the police used search warrants issued by Legazpi City Regional Trial Court Vice Executive Judge Edgar Armes on May 1 for the said raids and arrests.
Karapatan said it was 3:30 a.m. on May 2 when combined elements of the police and the military forcibly entered the Shannan Christian Academy in Brgy. San Isidro, Sto. Domingo, Albay, where Balucio, his wife and two children, and a staff of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines were staying. Balucio serves as the administrator of the said school.
The police forcibly brought out all the occupants including Balucio from the house and the police and military operatives went through their belongings inside.
“After 30 to 45 minutes, the barangay captain and a kagawad arrived — it was only then that search warrants were shown to Balucio — and the police and military conducted their so-called search for another 30 minutes after which they allegedly found guns, ammunitions, a grenade, and a red flag,” Karapatan said.
The same happened with the arrest of Sta. Rosa. State agents also forcibly entered her house and the residents were brought outside. Initially the authorities did not present search warrants. The police and the military began the search when barangay officials came after an hour. Afterwards, the authorities alleged they found guns, ammunition, a grenade, a book, a black t-shirt, a green envelope with documents, a wallet and a pack of panty-liners.
Witnesses in these raids assert that the firearms and explosives and other supposed evidence obtained from the search were planted.
The house of Justine Mesias, in Daraga, Albay, a second year Bicol University student and Youth Act Now Against Tyranny – Bicol spokesperson was also raided on the same day at 4:00 a.m. Afterwards a gun and explosives were allegedly found in his house. The group said Mesias was not in the house at the time of the raid.
Nica Ombao of Defend Bicol Stop the Attacks said there is no truth to the allegations made against the three activists. She said their weapon is only a megaphone as they are often present in protest actions held in the region.
Based on initial accounts of witnesses, Karapatan said that the patterns in the police raids are similar to the operations conducted in Negros, Iloilo, Metro Manila, Central Luzon and the Bloody Sunday raids in Southern Tagalog.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to property
- Community-based HRD
- Environmental rights defender
- Family of HRD
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On May 5,2021, 3 community-based defenders and the wife of one of them were arrested, their houses simultaneously raided by the police based on search warrants issued by courts in Rizal Province, the Philippines.