Davao City, Philippines militant leaders declare victory

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Friday, February 2, 2007

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Davao City militant leaders known as Davao 8 announced last Monday, January 29, their vindication from the rebellion charges thrown against them March last year as police officers release a notarized apology and retraction letter last week.

In a press conference headed by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Southern Mindanao, the militants are glad with what they described as a "tactical victory of the street parliamentarians in the struggle for justice and in the assertion of the rights and welfare of the ordinary Filipinos."

Last year, eight local progressive leaders were linked to rebellion charges filed against Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Joel Virador in the heat of the crackdown against progressive groups during the pronouncement of the State of National Emergency or Presidential Proclamation 1017.

In reaction to the accusations, Davao 8 filed before the People's Law Enforcement Board an administrative case against two (2) Criminal Investigation and Detention Group Region 11 (CIDG-11) operatives April 6 last year.

BAYAN secretary general Ariel B. Casilao, Bayan Muna party-list regional coordinator Jeppie Ramada, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (Urban Poor Union, KADAMAY) Davao City chairperson Editha Duterte, Samahan ng mga Maralitang Kababaihang Nagkakaisa (United Urban Poor Women, SAMAKANA) Davao City Chapter chairperson Corazon Espinoza, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Peasant Movement of the Philippines, KMP) regional chairperson Antonio Flores and then Anakbayan (Youth of the Nation) leader Lorie Ann A. Cascaro filed affidavit-complaints attached with a copy of the false and perjured affidavit of Police Officer 3 Franco Duca and Chief Investigator 2 Rex Rodriguez both officers of the CIDG-11, Camp Leonor, San Pedro St., Davao City for their false, baseless and malicious accusation hurled against the eight leaders of progressive organizations in Davao City.

The said police officers of the CIDG submitted an apology and retraction letter duly notarized to the accused progressive leaders and the case was amicably settled.

Casilao said that the result of the case is a tactical victory for progressive organizations in the city. "Our vindication proves that what we fight for are the legitimate demands and causes of the people," he added.

He cited this as proof that the police and the military are crafting charges against them to discredit their organizations despite the continuing crackdown against progressive militant leaders across the country.

"All they could produce are fabricated cases against us to blind the people from the truth. They continue to discredit us, tag us terrorists, when the real terrorists are being coddled in Malacañang, with its fascist, anti-people and pro-US policies," Casilao said.

Arroyo uses "communist fronts" tag for the first time

In her speech Wednesday, Arroyo said there was a discrepancy with the figures presented by PNP Task Force Usig and the "front organizations of the communists". She was referring to the statistics on extrajudicial killings which spurred international outcry.

Arroyo's latest statement angered militant group Bayan declaring Thursday they will not cooperate in any Malacanang-initiated investigation into extrajudicial killings after President Arroyo uses "legal communist fronts" tag for the first time.

"Her pronouncement shows the government's official attitude towards legal activist organizations. She herself has encouraged the killings of activists just by referring to them as communist fronts," Reyes said.

In a press statement, Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said "Mrs. Arroyo's pronouncement of a new investigation is meant to appease the growing outrage of the international community. However, the truth remains that the Arroyo administration has masterminded and encouraged the killings on a nationwide scale."

"Arroyo wants us to cooperate yet in the same breath she calls us front organizations of communists. How can you cooperate with that?" he added.

Reyes vowed their group "can never cooperate with murderers nor with a government that has sanctioned death squads."

Sources

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