DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas condemned the arrest of a farmer couple who was accused of being members of the New People’s Army.
In a phone interview with Davao Today on Tuesday, Ireneo Udarbe chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Northern Mindanao Region said Alfredo Omandam, who is also a member of the Civilian Volunteer Organization, was arrested along with his wife Amelia in Barangay New Eden, Pangantucan town in Bukidnon province on July 19 without a warrant.
Udarbe said Amelia was released after three days.
He said the two are members of the Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma sa Bukidnon (Kasama-Bukidnon), a farmers’ group affiliated with the KMP.
Udarbe said the two were taken to Malaybalay City by members of the Bukidnon Provincial Public Safety Company.
“Alfredo is now facing charges for allegedly possessing explosive devices. But those are trumped up charges,” Udarbe said.
He said based on the testimony of Amelia, the authorities took a picture of a book that was found in their home. Asked what book it was, Udarbe said he could not tell as Amelia did not specify.
He said the explosive devices that were allegedly found in their house were only presented at the police station and were not found in their homes.
“Pag-abot sa police station, gipatalikod sila unya pag-atubang nila naa na ang mga explosives (When they arrived at the station they were asked to turn their backs, and then they were surprised that there were explosives placed on the table in front of them),” he said.
In a separate interview, Police Senior Investigator Jiselle Longakit, spokesperson of the Bukidnon Provincial Police said based on the report Alfredo Omandam is facing charges for violation of Republic Act 9516 which penalized illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
Longakit said there was no need for a warrant since Omandam was caught “in possession” of the explosives.
Longakit told Davao Today that prior to the arrest of Omandam, there was an encounter between government forces and the New People’s Army in Barangay Eden.
She said based on the police report, various explosives were found in the possession of Omandam including “electric blasting caps, rifle grenades, improvised claymore mine, an M67 fragmentation grenade and one gray backpack and five assorted subversive documents.”
She said there was an “undetermined number” of suspects that the authorities were pursuing and only Omandam was arrested.
But, Udarbe said the place of the encounter was far from the house of the couple.
He said they believe that the couple were arrested arbitrarily and Omandam was filed with trumped up charges.
He said the arrest of the couple was the second incident against the members of Kasama-Bukidnon since Martial Law in Mindanao was implemented.
He said a couple named Ryan and Gretchen Espera were also arrested on July 12 and were accused of being members of the NPA.(davaotoday.com)