DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Bayan Muna National Chair and former representative Neri Colmenares slammed the Department of Justice for issuing a subpoena on him and other left-leaning personalities on alleged “kidnapping” of student activists.
The charges filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arise from complaints of parents that their children have joined “left leaning groups”.
Colmenares was summoned along with Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago to appear on hearings with the DOJ on August 27, September 10 and 24.
Also charged are Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo and their spokesperson Alex Danday.
Former Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin was also included in the subpoena but was erroneously named Anakbayan Representative.
All are charged by the CIDG with counts of trafficking and kidnapping.
Colmenares, in a TV interview, said the government is using this issue to harass its critics and implement measures to repress student activism in schools.
“That’s what they intend to do, to discourage the students to be critical.
That’s what they want, the intolerance of dissent,” Colmenares said.
The former Congressman said measures are now made by the Philippine National Police to patrol inside schools targeting student activists.
“That’s the intention of the government. They intend to discredit the opposition by linking them to many groups, and they intend to pave the way for harassment,” Colmenares said.
Meanwhile, Villarin took to his Twitter account to swipe at CIDG for mislabeling him as an Anakbayan representative.
“CIDG filing a case against me as Anakbayan party list rep?!? Where do you get your facts? Saan napunta yung billions of intel funds niyo? Kaloka! (Where did your billion-peso intelligence funds go? Crazy!)” Villarin said.
Anakbayan spokesperson Danday in her statement said the charges are “bogus and malicious” as there is no actual case of “missing” minors.
Some of the activists appeared at a press conference with the Makabayan coalition where they clarified they volunteered to join student activist groups, and appealed to the police to stop using their issues with their families.
“This is plain and simple state harassment. A paper tiger specifically engineered to terrorize the youth into silence in the face of the Filipino people’s growing opposition against Duterte’s anti-people and tyrannical regime,” Danday said.
Kabataan Party-list released their statement saying they “condemn these disgusting efforts of exploiting blatant lies to sideline dissent and persecute opposition.”
Lawyer Edre Olalia, spokesperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers of which Colmenares chairs, called the charges absurd.
Colmenares said government should do better to address the issues raised by activists regarding social problems.
“The solution to the problems of the society is to address it. Poverty, corruption. As long as this issue are there, there will be people who criticize it.” (davaotoday.com)