Updated March 7, 2021, 3:52 p.m.
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Five activists were killed and at least three others were arrested in what appeared to be government crackdown on progressives in Southern Luzon early this morning, March 7.
Groups likened the simultaneous raids on progressives’ offices and homes to “Oplan Sauron” – the joint police and military operations first conducted in Negros island, and most recently in Panay island, both resulted in mass killings and arrests of high-profile leaders and activists.
As of this writing, posts on social media by progressive groups Pamantik-TK and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the police were serving “search warrants” to the victims in simultaneous operations at 4 a.m. in Cavite, Rizal, Laguna and Batangas.
* Manny Asuncion, coordinator of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Cavite), who was killed in a raid at the Workers’ Assistance Center (WAC) in Dasmariñas City, Cavite
* Melvin Dasigao and Mark Lee Coros Bacasno of San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran, at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD K3) in Kasiglahan Village, Rodriguez (formerly Montalban), Rizal.
* Ariel Evangelista and wife Chai Lemita-Evangelista were killed inside their hut in barangay Calayo, Nasugbu, Batangas.
The couple’s 10-year-old son reportedly hid under a bed and witnessed the killing. Police were serving the search warrant issued by Judge Jason Zapanta. Ariel was a staff of the Ugnayan ng Mamamayan Laban sa Pagwawasak ng Kalikasan at Kalupaan (UMALPAS KA), the peasant group in Hacienda Looc. Police reportedly whisked away the victims’ remains after the operations. The Lemita family found the bodies at the John Paul Funeral in Nasugbu.
Meanwhile, the three arrested were:
* labor organizer Esteban Mendoza, executive vice president of Organized Labor Association in Line Industries and Agriculture (Olalia KMU) was arrested at his home in barangay Mamatid, Cabuyao city, Laguna province at around 4 a.m.
* Elizabeth Camoral, spokesperson of BAYAN-Laguna was arrested at the office of the Defend Yulo Alliance in barangay San Isidro, also in Cabuyao city
* human rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas , 61, of KAPATID (Families and Friends of Political Prisoners-Southern Tagalog), was arrested at her house in Cabuyao. Her son, Edward, a member of activist group PUMALAG, has been a political detainee for seven years.
KMP said the house of peasant leader Lino Baez in Sto. Tomas, also in Batangas was raided but they are still confirming if he was arrested.
The groups are also reported that the houses of one “Dodong Bagsik” and “Tatay Moises” were raided in Montalban.
Last Thursday, March 4, two activists were also arrested. Arnedo Lagunias, former officer of Lakas Manggagawang Nagkakaisa sa Honda and Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Enklabo, and Ramir Corcolon, secretary general of Water System Employees Response and a national council member of the Confederation for the Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees were nabbed in Sta. Rosa and San Pablo City, Laguna, respectively.
In a statement, Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan, said that the spate of raids, arrests, and killings are “clearly the handiwork of the rabid red-tagger Antonio Parlade Jr. as the military’s Southern Luzon commander and the spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.”
“Obediently heeding the president’s kill, kill, kill orders like the lapdog that he is, Parlade has now exceeded the brutality of fascist butcher Jovito Palparan in letting loose a murderous rampage without any attempt to disguise it,” Palabay said.
This story was updated to correct the names of the victims. Spouses Ariel Evangelista and Chai Lemita-Evangelista were also earlier reported as among those arrested, along with two others.