An alliance to defend activists in Southern Tagalog who presently face political persecution was launched November 22.
BY RONALYN V. OLEA
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Dana, a petite 12-year-old girl, introduced herself to the audience as the daughter of Eden and Orly Marcellana.
She said, sobbing, “Si Nanay pinatay nila noong April 22, 2003. Ngayon, si Tatay naman kinasuhan.” (They killed my mother last April 22, 2003. Today, my father is being charged in court.)
Eden, then the Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights)-Southern Tagalog secretary-general and Eddie Gumanoy, chairperson of Katipunan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka sa Timog Katagalugan (Kasama-TK or Confederation of Peasant Organizations in Southern Tagalog), were abducted on April 22, 2003. Their bodies were found the next day in Bansud, Oriental Mindoro. Witnesses point to the “Bonnet Gang”, a paramilitary group linked with the Philippine Army’s 204th Infantry Battalion of which then Col. Jovito Palparan, Jr. was the commanding officer.
Dana continued, “Mabuting tao ang tatay ko. Hindi siya kriminal.” (My father is a good man. He is not a criminal.)
She said, wiping her tears, “Wala na nga akong nanay, gusto pa nilang kunin ang tatay ko. Walang ginagawa ang gobyerno para bigyang hustisya ang pagkamatay ng nanay ko. Paano na kami?” (I lost my mother, now they want to take away my father. The government does nothing to give justice to the death of my mother. What will happen to us?)
Then, the young girl said, “Lagi kong naaalala sinasabi ni Nanay sa rali…” (I always remember what my mother used to say during rallies.) She paused, raised her fist and said, “Makibaka! ‘Wag Matakot!” (Fight! Do not fear!)
It was the launching of the Task Force Defend the Victims of Political Persecution in Southern Tagalog (Defend ST) last November 22. Close to 500 people filled the Benitez Hall of the College of Education at the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.
Dana’s father Orly Marcellana is one of the 72 activists who have been charged with multiple murder and frustrated murder in connection with a raid conducted by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro on March 3. 2006.
Orly is the chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-New Patriotic Alliance)-Southern Tagalog and secretary general of Kasama-TK.
Earlier, in August, 27 activists in Southern Tagalog were also charged with arson, destruction of property and conspiracy to commit rebellion in relation to the burning down of a telecommunication company’s cell site in Lemery, Batangas.
Six of the 72 respondents to the Mindoro case have been arrested and detained at the Calapan City District Jail in Mindoro Oriental. They are Remigio Saladero, Jr., Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-May First Movement) legal counsel; Rogelio Galit, spokesperson of Katipunan ng mga Magbubukid sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka), transport sector leader Nestor San Jose; Bayan Muna member Crispin Zapanta; Arnaldo Seminiano, organizer of the Ilaw-Buklod ng Manggagawa (IBM); and Emmanuel Dionida, executive director of labor institute LEADERS.