Calls for stop to reward-bounty system
What was supposed to be a vacation turned out to be a nightmare for three local tourists Aileen Cruz, Rey Busania, and Ofelia Inong when they were arrested without any warrant on 10 September by joint operatives of Regional Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT), the Philippine National Police led by Senior Supt. Ulysses J. Abellera, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Cruz, Busania and Inong were brought and detained at Mt. Province Provincial Police in Bontoc. The three were only brought to the fiscal’s office on 11 September. Cruz and Busania were initially cleared of any cases. Inong was shown a warrant of arrest against her under the name of “Lolita Loguibis”, an alleged finance and logistics officer of the New People’s Army. The PNP claimed that Inong is “Loguibis”.
Even without a charge, Busania was not released. Later in the day, a warrant of arrest from Madella, Quirino was issued against Busania.
The arrest followed the series of indiscriminate bombing in the northern villages of Sagada supposedly in pursuit of members of the New People’s Army. The bombings destroyed communal rice fields, hunting grounds, and water source.
“The military’s claim that Rolly Panesa is ‘Benjamin Mendoza’ was proven wrong and unjust. Now they did it again to Ofelia Inong by insisting she is ‘Lolita Loguibis’ supposedly a finance and logistics officer of the NPA. ‘Loguibis’ reportedly has a PhP 2.05M bounty on her head, just as ‘Mendoza’ had PhP 5.6 million,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.
“This reward/bounty system is getting out of hand and becoming more dangerous, victimizing any person, at random, for the military and police to get the reward money,” Palabay lamented. The PhP 5.6 million bounty for the arrest of ‘Benjamin Mendoza’ was rewarded to an unidentified person for Panesa’s arrest. We don’t even know where that PhP 5.6 million of people’s money went. This reward-bounty system must stop!” Palabay said.
In Misamis Oriental, Joel Quintana Yagao, a lay co-worker of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) was arrested on September 8. Yagao was falsely charged with double murder and murder, and multiple frustrated murder in connection to the shooting incident between the NPA and escorts of Mayor Ruthie Guingona’s convoy in Gingoog in May 2013.
Yagao was accosted by a composite team of the Philippine Army, led by Capt. Joe Ryan Manalo, in the compound of Villanueva Roman Catholic Church.
Karapatan-Northern Mindanao secretary general Fr. Chris Ablon and his co-workers in RMP attest Yagao has been a long time lay co-worker assisting farmers in their struggle for their right to land and life.
“This is how arbitrary the Aquino government is, and its counter insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay. “The government’s arbitrariness is so obvious it takes anyone, even civilians, for false charges.”
Prior to Yagao’s arrest, two other farmers in Gingoog were arrested for the said shooting incident.
“This is a desperate act of the Aquino government who is stricken by massive opposition to corruption and bureaucrat capitalism,” Palabay said. “Kasabay ng pagtatakip ng gobyernong ito ang apoy na nilikha ng pork barrel, bumibigwas si Aquino para takutin ang mamamayan para hindi lumaban (while the government tries to appease the people’s outrage against the pork barrel, Aquino strikes at the people to sow fear and suppress people’s protests and indignation),” Palabay said.
Karapatan demanded the immediate release of Yagao, Busania, Inong, and all political prisoners. “Stop arbitrary arrests and illegal detention!” the group said.
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.