5 Bayan Muna volunteers investigating drought held up in Quezon province

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SANTA CRUZ, Laguna – Five volunteers of progressive party-list Bayan Muna Southern Tagalog along with two companions are being held in a checkpoint by elements of the police and military in barangay Panikihan, Gumaca town, Quezon province, March 4.

Armed elements of the 85th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army (IPBA), 2nd Company of the PNP Special Action Force, and Gumaca police forced the team to stop by pointing their guns at their vehicle at approximately 6 p.m., according to reports collected by human rights watchdog Karapatan Southern Tagalog.

According to the group, the police at the checkpoint have so far been unable to provide an explanation as to why they are being held, citing it as “enough basis for the five to be immediately released.” As of press time, the five volunteers are still held in the checkpoint.

Bayan Muna Southern Tagalog is in the area to conduct an investigation on the effects of the El Niño drought in peasant communities in Quezon. According to the group, the drought is affecting farming communities all over the country, particularly rice farmers.

Quezon is currently the top rice producer in CALABARZON. Quezon produced 204,629 metric tons of palay last year. Bayan Muna ST is concerned that the continuing effects of El Niño, coupled by the “Marcos Jr. administration’s lack of action” will severely affect the farmers in Quezon. (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.org)

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