Ada, daughter of Crispin Zapanta told the crowd of supporters that when they were young, they could not understand the work of their father. “Lagi kasi siyang busy. Laging wala.” (He was always busy, always away.)
She said, “Ngayon lang namin na-realize ang importansya ng ginagawa niya para sa mga manggagawa at maralitang taga-lunsod.” (It is only now that we realized the importance of his work, of his service to the workers and urban poor.)
Patricia, wife of Rogelio Galit, said that her husband is diabetic and already insulin-dependent. She said that at the time of the arrest, her husband is still recuperating from his illness. “Mabuting tao ang asawa ko,” (My husband is a good man.) she said, crying.
Victims of political persecution
Pastor Berlin Guerrero of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), spokesperson of Defend ST, said he, like the 72 activists implicated in the Mindoro case and the 27 charged in relation to the Batangas incident, is also a victim of political persecution.
Guerrero was abducted May 27, 2007 by elements of the Naval Intelligence Security Forces. He was charged with murder and detained at Camp Pantaleon Garcia in Imus, Cavite. After one year, three months and 15 days in detention, the Court of Appeals (CA) Third Division ordered Guerrero’s release to the custody of his lawyers, former Sen. Jovito Salonga and lawyer Emilio Capulong Jr.
Guerrero said, “Ang sariling karanasan ko pala ay ay nais ulitin sa marami pang mamamayan.” (My own experience is being repeated against many other citizens.)
Guerrero said the accused are leaders and members of organizations advancing the interests of the Filipino people.
The UCCP pastor noted that while there is a decline in the number of extrajudicial killings, the Arroyo government employed a new tactic of political repression, the wholesale filing of criminal cases against activists.
Guerrero recalled that such tactic was first used against progressive party list representatives and national leaders of cause-oriented organizations. He also cited the charges of rebellion and illegal possession of firearms against three members of the Katipunan ng mga Magsasaka sa Kabite (Kamagsasaka-Ka or Farmers’ Confederation in Cavite) and two Tagaytay City residents. The Tagaytay 5 are Axel Pinpin; Riel Custodio; Aristides Sarmiento; Enrico Ybañez; and, Michael Masayes. On Aug. 28, they were released on the strength of a court order issued by Judge Erwin Larida, Jr. of the Tagaytay City RTC (Regional Trial Court), Branch 18.
Guerrero said that the filing of fabricated charges against him and other activists is a form of political repression being employed by the Arroyo government.
Pinpin, one of the Tagaytay 5, performed two poems as tribute to the 72 activists.