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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, November 15, 2019
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Law enforcers file MR
on release of 31 in raids
BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA

 

Local authorities are seeking reconsideration on the release of the 31 individuals arrested in raids on offices of progressive groups in Bacolod City on October 31.

So far, 64 members of the House of Representatives, including four from Negros Island, yesterday signed a petition, demanding an end to the "attacks" against progressive organizations, including the party-list groups currently serving in the 18th Congress.

The 31 persons were among the 55 individuals, including 13 minors, rounded up by the police after the simultaneous raids in the offices of leftist party-list Bayan Muna and other progressive organizations on October 31. The Army and the police claimed the compound served as a “training area” for young rebel recruits.

Captain Cenon Pancito III, chief of public affairs office of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division, said it should have been the court, not the prosecutor, that decided the participation of the 31 individuals as a cache of firearms and explosives were recovered during the simultaneous raids.

Last week, the Bacolod City Prosecutor's Office ordered the immediate release of the 31 individuals - the 21 laid-off workers of a bus company and 10 young members of grassroots cultural group Teatro Obrero, for lack of probable cause in their arrest.

Pancito said the motion for reconsideration filed yesterday by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-Western Visayas before the Bacolod City Prosecutor’s Office came after their lawyers reviewed the decision of the prosecutor, who he claimed “dismissed it (the case) outrightly.”

He stressed that the presence of the 31 individuals during the raids is tantamount to the commission of the crime even if they did not directly commit the crime.

He pointed out it was not incidental and a case should have been filed to let the court decide the gravity of their participation.

Jose Max Ortiz, counsel of the 21 terminated workers, earlier said the resolution confirmed that his clients were indeed innocent and that they were only there because they want to consult with the Kilusang Mayo Uno on their labor dispute with a transport firm.

The prosecutor, meanwhile, recommended the filing of the charges against the remaining 11 suspects, four of whom have already posted bail this week for their temporary liberty.

END CRACKDOWN

Representatives Francisco Benitez (Neg, Occ., 3rd District), Stephen Paduano (Abang-Lingkod party-list), Jocelyn Limkaichong (Neg, Or., 1st District), and Manuel Sagarbarria (Neg. Or., 2nd District) were among the 64 lawmakers who signed the petition calling for support against the crackdown on progressive groups and the opposition in the House.

The petition said they are airing their growing concern over the ongoing crackdown against progressive groups like the Makabayan bloc and the opposition

"We are united in expressing our concern on the attacks on the elected representatives, members, and supporters of the Makabayan bloc, and demand that these be stopped immediately. Such attacks have no place in a democracy," the lawmakers said in the petition.

They stressed that members of the Makabayan bloc are productive and dynamic part of the House, whose members properly perform their role as credible fiscalizers of the administration, wholly within the bounds of the Constitution.

They pointed out that Filipinos live in a democratic country and whatever ideology is espoused by individuals and organizations, as long as the act is within the framework of the law, they should be respected and protected.*

 

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