“Free Tacloban 5! Justice for Jay-ar Mercado!” — Migrante International

In the dead of the night on 7 February, the office of BAYAN-Eastern Visayas was illegally raided by elements of the 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army. A journalist, one climate activist and 3 human rights workers were unjustly arrested based on trumped-up charges and fabricated evidence. Migrante International vehemently condemns these criminal acts of state terrorism committed by government troops against people’s defenders. We call for their immediate release and outright dismissal of the spurious charges. Those who led and perpetrated the illegal arrest must be held liable for this atrocity. 

The detainees now known as Tacloban 5 include Marielle Domequil of Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Alexander Philip Abinguna of Katungod Eastern Visayas, Mira Legion of BAYAN Eastern Visayas, Frenchie Mae Cumpio of Eastern Vista and Marissa Cabaljao of People Surge along with her one-year-old baby. According to them, at about 1:00 am last friday, state troops violently barged into their home office, barking on everyone to come out and kneel on the ground. The military then rummaged around in every room and corner of the building without even reading any search  warrant. Only after more than an hour did the arresting crooks read the warrant signed by RTC 8 Judge Petilla. By then, firearms and IEDs were already illegally planted by government forces on the victims’ belongings. 

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A few weeks back, suspected agents of the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion murdered Jay-ar Mercado after his arrest on 25 January in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro. Efforts by his loved ones and colleagues to recover his body were met with harassment and intimidation by the military. It is outrageously appalling that criminal brutalities are boldly being committed in the open by mercenaries of the Fascist US-Duterte regime. We demand that justice be served for Jay-ar and for all the victims of injustice and state violence. 

Through Executive Order 70 and the creation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) signed by President Duterte, all government functions are being geared towards silencing dissent and eliminating organized struggle against his Fascist reign of terror. At a time when government efforts and resources should be aimed at addressing public health concerns for polio and the 2019-NCoV outbreak through improvement of social services, the onslaught of repression and bloodshed is being unleashed as part of the government’s crackdown on people’s defenders, the media and against every critical voice that dare challenge the predominating system of oppression and despotic rule. 

Using NTF-ELCAC as their main vehicle of corruption, public money is being squandered and looted by the military at the expense of social services. Along with the Fascist US-Duterte regime, NTF-ELCAC must be abolished and its key officials sentenced to face the full brunt of justice. Filipino progressive organizations and their allies overseas must intensify active lobbying to call international attention to these atrocities and ensure that perpetrators will be placed behind bars to pay for their crimes. 

Migrante International calls on all its member chapters all over the world to denounce and launch protest actions against this spate of attacks on the democratic rights of the Filipino people and to all progressive groups that actively organize and raise legitimate grievances on behalf of the marginalized grassroots. The Filipino people can no longer expect peaceful and meaningful lives under this rotten and murderous regime. To its very core, the US-Duterte regime is possessed by all manner of vileness and monstrosity. Only by our enduring resistance shall the forces of doom be finally smitten to infernal ruin. 

Free Tacloban 5!

Free all political prisoners!

Justice for Jay-ar Mercado!

Junk EO70!

Abolish NTF-ELCAC!

Resist crackdown!

Stop the killings!

Stop the attacks!

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