The Malaya Movement joins the rest of the Filipino people in demanding for the immediate release and freedom for the more than 60 individuals arrested in Bacolod City and Escalante, Negros Occidental as well as in Metro Manila in what resembles a full-blown crackdown on activists and cause-oriented organizations.
Duterte’s minions swooped down on activist workers, peasants, women, and media practitioners over the past few days in Bacolod, Escalante and Metro Manila. Police arrested and detained more than 60 people belonging to various cause-oriented organizations such as Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), GABRIELA, Bayan Muna Partylist, and the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), all of which are legitimate and legal organizations. Just today, three officers of BAYAN Metro Manila in Tondo were arrested.
The combined forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police raided the offices and residences of the said organizations. It used an arrest warrant procured from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, hundreds of miles away from Negros Occidental. These are clearly machinations to further harass and attack organizations that are critical of the Duterte government’s policies.
Ever since Memorandum Order 32 (MO 32) was signed in 2018, more AFP and PNP forces have been deployed to Negros, Samar, and Bicol where we’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of human rights abuses and killings, establishing a de facto Martial Law in the island of Negros where attacks on activists and farmers have been the harshest. These arrests are a clear sign that MO 32 is just a means for the Duterte government to attack activists and all those concerned with the increasing violence and oppression.
These mass arrests are not only an attack on universally recognized rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association, but they are also an expression of the lengths that the Duterte administration will go to suppress dissent and critical voices rather than address the real problems of the Philippine economy and civil liberties. This crackdown on legitimate and legal people’s organizations fighting for better wages, civil rights, and real solutions to landlessness for peasant farmers also occurs in the midst of a spiraling economy and the largest debt burden the nation has ever seen. Everyday Filipinos have a right to address their concerns and organize for their interests without fear of retaliation and harassment. These are rights that have been won through the struggles of Filipinos who have fought against Martial Law and its attendant repressive policies and measures.
We express our utmost concern with the rapidly shrinking democratic space in the Philippines that is slowly suffocating legitimate avenues to air people’s grievances against Duterte’s anti-people policies. We call on all democracy and freedom loving Filipinos and allies to take a stand against this attack against the people’s movement for human rights and democracy.
We demand the following:
- The immediate and unconditional release of all activists that were arrested in these series of mass arrests.
- The independent investigation of the series of mass arrests for its violation of civil and political rights.
- Junking of the Memorandum Order 32, Executive Order 70 and Duterte’s Oplan Kapanatagan.