DAVAO CITY—Genasque Enriquez, a tribal activist leader and Katribu Partylist National Vice Chairperson, was freed Saturday morning after posting bail on three frustrated murder charges before the Regional Trial Court Branch 29 in Surigao City.

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Activist arrested in Surigao City

Arrested IP leader says he is “not in hiding, not guilty”

Enriquez, 41, who is also Secretary General of Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon sa Caraga (KASALO Caraga), was accompanied by his lawyer, Jose Begil, Jr. and supporters when he posted P200,000 bail on each case under the 11th Judicial Region Branch 28 of Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Enriquez was arrested on August 22, 1:00 pm at Dale’s Food House in Rizal St, Surigao City by joint forces of the Philippine National Police, the Criminal Investigation Division Group and the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion.

The Army’s 11th Special Action Company and 75th IB filed murder charges against Enriquez linking him to an NPA (New People’s Army) ambush in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur on July 21.

Leaders of the Sisters Association in Mindanao (SAMIN), which had just wrapped up its 20th assembly in Tandag, Surigao del Sur, earlier demanded for Enriquez’ release.

On the day he was arrested, Enriquez, in a Davao Today interview said that he was “never hiding and he is not guilty” of the charges filed against him by the military.

“I am active in campaigns to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples and the environment,” Enriquez said.

Human rights condemned the filing of the murder cases as there were “trump-up” charges against Enriquez.

“This is clearly another case of state harassment against progressive leaders and organizations to silence us amid the mounting public clamor for change.  What is dangerous is that 101 John Does have been included in the warrant that was used to arrest him”, said Karapatan-Caraga Secretary General Naty Castro.

Castro claimed that “trump up” charges against the members of the progressive organizations are trending in Caraga.

“There have been names of civilians, leaders and members of progressive organizations that were maliciously added on to criminal cases filed by the AFP in the civilian courts, connecting them with NPA offensives.”

Karapatan-Caraga reported that members of peasant organization, Unyon sa Mag-uuma sa Agusan del Norte – Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (UMAN – KMP) Armando Toreta and Eutiquio Bulat-ag were also arrested separately on trumped up murder charges and are still detained in Butuan City.

“This is a disturbing trend to further curtail our civil liberties.  Human rights defenders like Genasque Enriquez are put at risk because of their public defense on the side of the poor and the powerless, who have only their people’s organization as a weapon against tyranny and abuse,” Castro added. (Mart D. Sambalud/davaotoday.com)

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