85th IB harasses and detains Bayan Muna volunteers in Quezon

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This article is available in Pilipino

Twenty troops of the 85th IB, Philippine National Police (PNP)-Gumaca and Special Action Force (SAF)-Gumaca pointed guns, threatened and detained Bayan Muna-Southern Tagalog coordinator Emmanuel Numeron and volunteers in a checkpoint in Barangay Panikihan, Gumaca, Quezon yesterday, March 4. The delegation was in the province to investigate the condition of farmers affected by El Niño. They were held for three hours before allowed to continue their journey.

The victims said the police and military falsely claimed that they were accosted to serve an arrest warrant against the volunteers. The police even gave the lame excuse that the target of their search was not yet among the volunteers. Later, the police claimed to be after a “hit and run” suspect. When information about the illegal apprehension spread on social media, the police said they intercepted the wrong vehicle.

“We have been stuck here for more than three hours, we have no other objective but to help the Quezon farmers affected by the disastrous El Niño,” posted Elloy Mart, a volunteer, when the police stopped them.

He then called on the public “if anything bad happens to me and my companions, there are no other culprit but the armed police and military who blocked us.” He uttered these words following the state forces’ recent modus operandi of arresting and deliberately massacring progressives and activists.

Karapatan-Southern Tagalog condemned this tactic of harassment and terror by state forces. They said, “Karapatan Southern Tagalog stands firm that this is a clear violation of the human rights of peasant advocates who promote the well-being of farmers.”

Quezon is among the provinces set to experience El Niño “dry conditions”. In the last report of the El Niño task force, it is presumed that the climate phenomenon will affect up to 80 provinces in the coming April to May. In the February 29 report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), damages and losses has reached ₱941.7 million and has devastated 14,854.86 hectares of agricultural land nationwide.

AB: 85th IB harasses and detains Bayan Muna volunteers in Quezon