11 activists, campaign volunteers arrested after Boying Remulla’s red tagging remarks

11 members from Anakpawis Partylist were reported to be harassed and detained within different areas around Cavite on Thursday, March 10 – only five days after the red-tagging remarks by Cavite 7th District Representative Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla against campaign volunteers and attendees for Vice President Leni Robredo and Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan in the province.

According to a Facebook post from Defend Southern Tagalog on Thursday, 10 locals and volunteers from the Makabayan for Leni-Kiko Campaign and local chapters of Anakpawis were harmed and arrested in their own homes in Barangay Bagong Silangan and Talaba 7, Bacoor, Cavite. The group said the arrest happened under the guise of anti illegal drugs operations of police forces, causing the police to raid their houses even without providing search warrants.

Meanwhile, Teatro Kabataan mula sa Nayon (TEKA MUNA) Spokesperson and Anakpawis Partylist Southern Tagalog Regional Coordinator Jonathan Mercado was also arrested by police officers from the Philippine National Police (PNP) Regional Office Calabarzon earlier that day, while he was helping local farmers in Maguyam, Silang.

The activist is reported to be one of the volunteers during the campaign rally of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem on March 4, and has also been actively campaigning for the candidacy of senatorial candidates Elmer Labog and Atty. Neri Colmenares.

As of March 10, names of other detained members from Anakpawis are still being identified, while Mercado is currently in custody of PNP Silang despite having no clear grounds for his arrest.

Denouncing the arrest, red-tagging

Following the arrest of several groups, many progressive organizations quickly condemned the harassment against activists, especially coming only three days after the first anniversary of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ that killed 9 activists from Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas last year.

“Defend Southern Tagalog raised urgent concern on consecutive accounts of harassment against activists and election campaigners of Makabayan in the region,” the organization said in a statement.

On the other hand, Anakpawis partylist also denounced the arrest of their regional members, appealing to national and local candidates to safeguard democracy and human rights under their post amid the consecutive attacks against progressive organizations within the country.

Panahon na para makamit sa bansa ang makabayang pagbabago, kung saan itinataguyod ang mga interes ng mayoryang maralita at kinikilala, at ipinapagtanggol ang kanilang demokratikong karapatan,” Anakpawis partylist National President Ariel “Ka Ayik” Casilao mentioned in a statement.

However, the group excluded presidential candidate and Senator Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson in their appeal, as instead condemned his red-tagging remarks against volunteers of the Robredo-Pangilinan tandem in the province following Remulla’s statements.

Lacson was among those who quickly responded to Remulla’s insinuations that there was a politician who paid participants P500 each for attending rallies in a DZRH radio program. When asked to specify which rally, the congressman asserted that it happened on March 4 – the same date as the massive campaign gathering of Robredo and Pangilinan in General Trias.

In reference to Remulla’s baseless accusations, Lacson expressed his worry for the candidates’ possible coalition government with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), New People’s Army (NPA) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF), claiming that this might “set back the gains of the government’s efforts to end the country’s decades-old insurgency problem”.

Meanwhile, Pangilinan called the arrests of their campaign volunteers as ‘political harassment’ and vowed to provide legal assistance for Mercado and other individuals that were harassed in the province.

“It is saddening to hear news of our supporters in Cavite and in different towns, cities and provinces where our forces are gaining strength to lead those who would push for a sincere government to victory,” Pangilinan added in an interview with the Philippine Star.

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