DAVAO CITY – Three leaders of progressive organizations and two others condemned what they referred to as “harassment” as they recounted how they were trailed by eight men riding in four motorcycles Tuesday night.
Sheena Duazo, spokesperson of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, said during a press conference Wednesday that they would like to put the incident “on record,” adding that the case was “part of a pattern of surveillance and monitoring which many us in the progressive group have become targets of.”
The “victims of surveillance” were Kadamay Davao Secretary General Benjie Badal, Amihan Spokesperson Marilyn Uyanguren and Gabriela Southern Mindanao Spokesperson Mary Anne Sapar. They had two other companions.
In their complaint to the police filed Wednesday, the group said that at around 7:30 PM last night, they noticed 4 black motorcycles were trailing the jeepney that they were riding with.
“One motorcycle was closely following, at about two breadths away from the jeepney that we were riding with, while the other three bikes were not far behind,” said Uyanguren.
“There were about 8 of them. They wore black jackets and full-face helmets. When we got off from the jeepney, two of them parked near the alley where we entered,” she added.
Uyanguren said they had a hard time evading the pursuing men as they had three children with them.
“We entered the nearby Davao City Hall, thinking the presence of the security guards would deter the men from following us, but they merely waited outside,” said Badal of Kadamay.
Uyanguren particularly noticed one of the men who entered the government premises and used the comfort rooms twice in short intervals.
“I can identify him if I see him again,” she said.
The group waited for their colleagues to pick them up, but minutes later, when they went out towards their service vehicle, they noticed the same men in motorcycles who appeared to be waiting for them.
The desk officer of the San Pedro Police Station who received their complaint asked if the group was able to take note of the motorcycles’ plate numbers or if they confronted the men.
“We dared not to go out of our way as it was dangerous. They were wearing jackets, what if they had weapons? We brought with us our kids,” lamented Gabriela’s Sapar.
Duazo believes that “state agents” were behind the incident.
She said that they have been branded by the AFP as “enemies of the state” even if they are unarmed civilians.
Duazo said the AFP has “intensified its counter-insurgency program, the Oplan Bayanihan, which also targets civilians” citing the recent pronouncement of the 10th Infantry Division of the AFP that at least five battalions of soldiers are to be deployed in the region.
She noted that the “additional deployment would result to more human rights violations.” (davaotoday.com)