Philippines: Bayan slams AFP harassment of Casio, local leaders in Ormoc

May. 08, 2007

Military terrorizing voters a week before polls

MANILA — The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic Alliance) today slammed the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the harassment of Bayan Muna representative Teddy Casio and Anakpawis Leyte leader Bebot Borja just after their group finished their motorcade in the Ormoc City yesterday.

Elements of the 19th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army arrested Borja whom they branded as a top ranking rebel leader in the province. Casio and other activists refused to acknowledge the alleged arrest warrant vs Borja as they accompanied him to Camp Downes in Ormoc City. Casios security escort was also disarmed.

The arrest on the local Anakpawis leader Borja comes in a time of successive extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of activists.

Whether the target was Casio or Borja, the fact remains that the AFP has been waging a stepped up campaign of repression against activist organizations. The aim is to terrorize voters just a few days before the elections. It is a desperate attempt to derail the victory of progressive partylist groups, said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Why was Casinos group held by military men who were not even in proper uniform and who did not appear to be conducting official business? The whole incident is patently suspicious Reyes added.

Reyes said that they expected more incidents of repression as Election Day draws near but believed that the AFPs terror campaign against supporters of progressive partylist groups will eventually fail.

Comelec not doing anything to stop military campaigning

Bayan also assailed the Comelec for failing to stop the military for engaging in partisan politics. A news report on TV Patrol showed soldiers in Bicol in possession of anti-Left campaign materials as well as campaign posters of presidential son Dato Arroyo who is running for Congress in Camarines Sur.

There have been numerous reports that the AFP is engaged in partisan politics, in favor of Arroyo candidates and against progressive partylist groups. Even without a formal complaint on his table, Chairman Abalos must investigate these incidents. Why cant the Comelec stop the AFP from campaigning? Reyes asked.

The coming elections can be worse than the 2004 Garci fraud. Here we have not just generals but the entire AFP being mobilized to support the administration bets. This is shameless fraud. The results of the elections will again be suspect, Reyes said.

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