DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A youth environment activist who was gunned down last Oct. 13 in Compostela Valley province was allegedly on drug watch list, police authorities said Friday.

Chief Insp. Andrea dela Cerna, PRO-Davao spokesperson, said they received an information that Joselito Pasaporte’s name was among the people enlisted on the drug watch list.

“Based from the report forwarded to us, it is confirmed that Pasaporte was among the people included in the drug watch list),” she said.

But Renante Mantos, leader of peasant group Hugpong sa Mag-uuma sa Walog Compostela (Humawac) said the drug-related issue being linked to Pasaporte by the police was already a recycled issue.

“That’s an old issue,” he said, adding that police authorities are more focused on investigating the drug issue instead of his untimely death.

For Mantos, linking Pasaporte to illegal-drug activities would only trigger speculation that he died because of his alleged involvement in drug activities.

“I won’t be surprised if Pasaporte’s death will be reported in the news because of his alleged involvement in illegal drugs and not because he stood to fight against foreign mining companies,” he pointed out.

Mantos urged the police to probe Pasaporte’s death. “We strongly condemn the death of Pasaporte who strongly opposed the entry of foreign mining companies in our area,” he said.

On Monday, human rights group Karapatan said the Philippine National Police continues to implement the anti-insurgency plan Oplan Bayanihan, “targetting activist farmers resisting landgrabbing, now in the guise of the so-called war against drugs.”

Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said farmers in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan were recently arrested and detained for charges in relation to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

On Oct. 6, the police along with several armed men wearing ski masks, have arrested eight farmers, including the chairperson of the local farmers’ organization, said Palabay. She said “they also ransacked three houses in Purok 6, Sitio Karahumi, Barangay. San Isidro, San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan.” “The farmers were arrested without warrants and charged of violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 (Republic Act 9165) based on planted methamphetamine (shabu) and paraphernalia,” Palabay said.

Farmers Rowel Reola, Alfredo Ravelo, and Lito Natural, all members of Karahumi Farmers Association (KFA), and Randy Sta. Maria remain in detention to this day. KFA is an active affiliate of Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Bulacan (AMB) and a member organization of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Palabay said: “While the US-driven Oplan Bayanihan remains operational, any form of people’s assertion of their rights will always be subject to repression.”

The “war against drugs” is now being used as a convenient excuse by the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to undertake illegal arrests against citizens, she added. (davaotoday.com)

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