Two farmer activists, Lumad chief arrested over ‘trumped up’ charges
DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Two farmers and one Lumad leader were “illegally arrested” in a series of government raids in a Cotabato town on Tuesday, January 9.
Arrested were Jarold Adiaton, 29, Jane Solis, 26, and Datu Maylan Andas, 59, according to Pastor Joy Mirasol, spokesperson of Karapatan Cotabato.
The three were arrested in separate incidents, said Mirasol.
According to the Karapatan spokesperson, military and police “forcibly” took Adiaton and Solis from their respective homes at around 3 am on Tuesday over “trumped-up” charges.
“First the military searched the houses of Adiaton and Solis but they found nothing, then minutes after the police came with a search warrant and claimed that they found improvised explosive devices (IED) at the bed of Adiaton’s child and Solis’ bed,” said Mirasol.
She said the military and police searched five houses but only claimed they found IEDs in the houses of Adiaton and Solis.
“Clearly it’s false charges. Why would someone put IED near his child? Why did they serve warrants during wee hours?,” Mirasol added.
Davao Today has sought for the military’s side through the Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, Maj. Ezra Balagtey.
Meanwhile, Andas, a 59-year-old Lumad chieftain, was arrested at around 5 am on Tuesday, two hours after the reported incident that involved Adiaton and Solis.
Earlier on Monday, January 8, members of 39th Infantry Battalion visited the tribal leader, offering him lunch. They left at around 5 pm heading to the center of Sitio Tungao.
Andas is among the 25 Lumad leaders who are facing a robber-in-band case filed by Rufino Fajardo, an Illongo settler.
The case was filed in 2015 when 70 Lumad families occupied 10-hectare lot out of 100-hectares owned by Fajardo. The Lumad families claim it is part of their ancestral land.
In April 2016, the Lumad and Mr. Fajardo met in a settlement with the barangay officials, where Lumads settled with the 2-hectare lot offered by Fajardo with the promise that he will withdraw the cases filed against them.
But Fajardo’s lawyer failed to submit the pertinent documents to the court for the withdrawal of the case which resulted in the issuance of the warrant of arrest against Datu Maylan and 24 others.
The three victims are currently held in the municipal police station in Magpet.
Karapatan lambasted the arrests, saying the three were active members of organizations that helped protect the rights of peasants and indigenous peoples. (davaotoday.com)