Relatives, friends and organizations reiterate call for release of Romblon 4

This article is available in Pilipino

Relatives, friends and democratic organizations once again called for the release of two environmental activists and two fisherfolks arrested in Romblon in 2021. The Free Romblon 4 Network led a press conference at the Commission on Human Rights in Quezon City yesterday, May 27, to call for the immediate release of Marlon Torres, Tess Dioquino, Benny Hilamon, and Nolan Ramos.

The press conference included Kilusang Mayo Uno, Center of Trade Union for Human Rights, Defend Workers Southern Tagalog, Tambisan sa Sining, and Southern Tagalog Cultural Alliance.

The four were illegally arrested on June 3, 2021. They were on their way to the island of Sibuyan to research the condition of open pit mining workers on the island, and to learn about the effects of predatory mining on the environment and the livelihood of the fisherfolk. They were first charged with fabricated cases of illegal fishing and violation of the quarantine protocols of the Covid-19 pandemic. Later, they were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Dioquino is a Tambisan sa Sining cultural worker and has long served as International Officer in the Kilusang Mayo Uno national office. She acted as Nanay Mameng in the play staged by SIKAD in 2015. Torres is a former Public Information Officer of Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (PAMANTIK KMU) and one of the founders of Sinagbayan. Hilamon is a labor organizer in the island of Sibuyan, while Ramos is an activist promoting the rights of fisherfolk.

The Romblon 4 case is part of a series of ongoing attacks on unionists and labor advocates carried out under Executive Order 70, according to human rights groups.

“Torres went to Romblon to investigate the situation of mine workers but they were locked up because of a fabricated case. This is just like the experience of political prisoners Steve Mendoza and Arnedo Lagunias who came from workers ranks,” Ludimer Madla of Defend Workers Southern Tagalog said.

Friends and supporters of Romblon 4 launched a “benefit gig” after the press conference aiming to raise ₱1.6 million in bail or ₱400,000 each.

AB: Relatives, friends and organizations reiterate call for release of Romblon 4