Labor Rights NGO Demand Aid not Raid, Mass testing not Mass Arrests

March 30, 2021

\The Center for Trade Union and Human Rights (CTUHR) vehemently condemns the simultaneous illegal raids and arrest of progressive leaders in Central Luzon and another raid in Laguna. The Center calls for their immediate and unconditional release and an investigation on the obvious violations in the said raids. 

“Once again, stricter quarantine protocols are being implemented in major parts of the country due to the dramatic rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. But despite this alarming threat to the health and livelihood of the people, recent incidents prove that the Duterte government’s focus is still not in helping the people cope and survive this crisis, but more on intensifying  persecution of unionists and rights defenders to further its political and economic agenda,” CTUHR said in a statement. 

Earlier today, Joseph Canlas, Vice Chairperson of Alyansa ng Magsasaka sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL) was arrested in a raid at their office in Pampanga. His arresting officers claim to have recovered a caliber .45 handgun, grenade and ammunitions from his possession. 

At around the same time, another raid was conducted in a private residence in Bamban, Tarlac, which resulted to the arrest of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Central Luzon Chairperson and Workers Alliance in Region III (WAR3) Chairperson, Pol Viuya. 

Meanwhile, May Arcilla, who was accompanying Ka Pol, was also arrested by the PNP after she relentlessly questioned the validity of the search warrant served and asserted that the firearms purportedly found in his possession were planted. She is also a Paralegal of human rights group Karapatan. 

Canlas is currently detained in Camp Olivas, San Fernando, Pampanga and is said to be charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Meanwhile, Viuya and Arcilla are detained at Camp Macabulos in Tarlac City.

Both Canlas and Viuya have been consistently red-tagged in different forms of propaganda of state forces and the NTF-ELCAC. 

Three weeks ago PNP and CIDG in CALABARZON also conducted raids weaponized by search warrants, that led to the death of nine (9) activists and rights defenders and arrest of four (4), dubbed as the Bloody Sunday. And just two days ago, another labor leader from Southern Tagalog, Dandy Miguel, was brutally murdered on his way home in Cabuyao, Laguna. 

“It is enraging that while most people are once again locked down and suffering loss of income, a year into the pandemic, due to incompetent government response; state forces are pre-occupied with further attacks against unionists and rights defenders. They are maximizing the lockdown to implement their desperate plans to pacify activists and critics. What the people need during this difficult time is aid, not raids and mass testing not mass arrests,”CTUHR averred. 

CTUHR join calls for the Supreme Court to investigate the validity of warrants issued that paved the way for these arrests and killings. Furthermore, the Center also calls on the workers and all peace-loving Filipinos to take a stand, strengthen their ranks and condemn these grave attacks on our democracy and human rights.###