Leaders of Davao Left Included in Rebellion Charge Vs Virador

Mar. 14, 2006

By Cheryll Fiel

DAVAO CITY Practically all of this citys known leaders of progressive groups have been included in the rebellion charges filed against Bayan Muna party-list representative Joel Virador.

Ariel Casilao, Bayan secretary-general for Southern Mindanao, told reporters Tuesday that he and eight other leaders of progressive groups are listed in the case filed against Virador at the Department of Justice on Monday.

According to Casilao, they were cited in the charge sheet for “conspiring to commit rebellion” based, accordingly, on a complaint filed by two police operatives.

Carlos Isagani Zarate, who represents the progressive leaders, confirmed the inclusion, aside from Casilao, of the following in the charge:

* Omar Bantayan, secretary general of the labor group Nagkahiusang Mamumumo sa Habagatang Mindanao-Kilusang Mayo Uno (Namahmin-KMU)

Jeppie Ramada, current regional coordinator for Bayan Muna in Southern Mindanao
* Corazon Espinoza, chairperson of the womens group Samahan ng mga Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (Samakana)
* Editha Duterte, chairperson of the urban-poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Kadamay)
* Luzviminda Ilagan, national chairperson of the Gabriela Women’s Party
* Antonio Flores, chairman of the Farmers Association in Davao City-Anakpawis (FADC-Anakpawis)
* Lorie Ann Cascaro, former spokesperson of the youth group AnakBayan

This is the first time that practically all the leaders of progressive groups in the city are charged with rebellion. They view this as part of the widening crackdown on the Left, which began with the arrests three weeks ago of six party-list congressmen from Bayan Muna, Anakpawis and Gabriela. The crackdown started after the Arroyo administration declared a state of national emergency, citing an alleged coup plot by elements of the armed forces and the Left.

Zarate said the inclusion of the eight in the Virador complaint was based on a report by the polices Criminal Investigation and Detection Group that said the mass leaders attended a rally on Feb. 24 calling for the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who defied the government edict that banned rallies, also attended and spoke at the Feb. 24 rally.

The charge is ridiculous and malicious, Zarate told davaotoday.com. If they were really serious, why didnt they include Mayor Duterte in the charge?

Zarate feared that, with the way things are going now, the authorities could invoke this complaint to start arresting the eight mass leaders.

Casilao, meanwhile, said that it was true they had had meetings discussing the ouster of Arroyo. He said people’s organizations have been meeting and discussing pressing issues, such as the 125-peso across-the-board wage increase, the Balikatan exercises, the Visiting Forces Agreement, and E-vat. “These are legitimate issues, he said, adding that they discussed how to increase the people’s resistance against these anti-people policies.”

Zarate had advised the eight leaders to take precaution as police could do to them what they did to Virador, who was arrested and forcibly taken to Manila by the police while buying a ticket at an airline here late last month.

Meanwhile, CIDG regional director Jose Pante denied to reporters on Tuesday that the eight had been included in the charge. “This is part of disinformation, he said.

The progressive leaders picketed the Philippine National Police Headquarters at Camp Leonor along Quimpo Boulevard on Tuesday to demand the release of Rep. Cripsin Beltran, one of those arrested in Manila.

When Pante appeared at the gates of Camp Leonor, members of the progressive groups asked him about the charge. Pante told them: “Not yet. I will inform you if it its there I’ll text you.”

Pante also denied that his men arrested Virador, saying his men just accompanied the congressman to Manila. (Cheryll D. Fiel/davaotoday.com)

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