PNP implements Oplan Bayanihan in the guise of “war against drugs”

“The Philippine National Police continues to implement Oplan Bayanihan, targetting activist farmers resisting landgrabbing, now in the guise of the so-called war against drugs,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said, as farmers in San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan were recently arrested and detained for charges in relation to the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. 
Last October 6, 2016 members of the Philippine National Police, along with several armed men wearing ski masks, arrested eight farmers, including the chairperson of the local farmers’ organization, and ransacked three houses in Purok 6, Sitio Karahumi, Brgy. 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.

On October 19, another KFA member, Romy “Nonoy” Gaitero was arrested without warrant by the police and was accused of drug peddling, a non-bailable offense under Sec. 6 of RA 9165.

“AMB said that the PNP, in cahoots with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP, Central Bank of the Philippines) officials, used the scheme of filing trumped up drug cases against farmers, because of their firm opposition to sell their lands to the BSP,” Palabay said. 

The KFA has been resisting the BSP’s landgrabbing of more than 1,000 hectares of agricultural land in Bulacan. The BSP has an impending deadline, already due last September 2016, to finish surveying the land. They were not able to complete this because of the resistance and campaigns of farmers and members of the KFA in the area.

“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,’” Palabay ended. 

For more information on the above-mentioned cases, please see Karapatan’s Urgent Alert: