Three Central Luzon Leaders Harassed by Suspected Military Agents in Angeles City, Pampanga, Philippines

At around 12:30 PM of 20 September 2007, Roman Polintan, Joseph Canlas, Angelina Ladera, Jovelyn Suson were about to leave Armando’s Pizza in Angeles City where they held a press conference on the protest rally to be held the following day in commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law.

At around 12:30 PM of 20 September 2007, Roman Polintan, Joseph Canlas, Angelina Ladera, Jovelyn Suson were about to leave Armando’s Pizza in Angeles City where they held a press conference on the protest rally to be held the following day in commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law.

Joseph noticed a suspicious looking man in red shirt sitting in a corner and drinking a bottle of softdrink and seemed to be constantly texting or fiddling with his mobile phone. On their way out, two men hurriedly walked passed them. As they were about to board the Tamaraw FX they were using, they noticed the two men ride a blue motorcycle with plate number OH5948 and drive out towards San Fernando. Suspecting that the two men were intelligence agents, the group decided to turn towards Jenra Mall. It was then that they noticed a man in light brown shirt cross the street while talking on his mobile phone and furtively observing their van.

As they sped off from Armando’s and traveled along Sto. Rosario to the direction of San Fernando, Pampanga, they noticed the two men on board the blue motorcycle, following them; it overtook them and then ran alongside the van. They even tried to have a look inside the van by staying close to it.

There were several occasions when the motorcycle could have run ahead of the van but it did not. It only continued to tail the group until they reached Plaza Miranda in Brgy. San Nicolas, Angeles City, Pampanga. There Mr. Polintan and company took refuge at Police Station I to report the incident. When the men who were following them saw that they had entered a police station, they went back to a one-way street. Afterwards, another motorcycle appeared, this time it was a Kawasaki model also ridden by two men. This time the group failed to get their plate number.

The day before the incident, Mr. Polintan was invited to talk at Infomax 8, a radio station, together with Atty. Bermas, Judge Canlas, Fred Villareal of National Union of Journalists in the Philippines during the radio program of Atty. Butch Jamon and Atty. Imelda Tuazon entitled Talking Points to discuss their topic on "May Bagong Mukha ba ang Martial Law" or "Does Martial Law have a new face". It was there that Mr. Polintan shared some analysis made by Bayan and invited the listeners of the program to join the mobilization on September 21 in commemoration of the 35th year of martial law.

The said incident is only the latest of several other incidents of harassments and active surveillance against Mr. Polintan, Mr. Canlas and Ms. Ladera. The three are high profile leaders of Central Luzon who have aired their opposition to the activities of then Major General Jovito Palparan Jr. during his stint as Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Battalion based in Nueva Ecija as well as the continuing human rights violations against their colleagues and members by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Roman Polintan is the Chairperson of BAYAN in Central Luzon. BAYAN is a an alliance composed mainly of organizations of peasants and workers that aims to uphold genuine national sovereignty by asserting national independence and opposing imperialist domination and plunder; unite the people and build their collective strength anchored on the basic alliance of the workers and peasants; build a self-reliant and progressive economy by dismantling the imperialist and feudal stranglehold of the economy and carrying out national industrialization and genuine agrarian reform to name a few.

He is also regional coordinator of Bayan Muna, a duly accredited political party that promotes the rights and welfare of the marginalized sectors of the country – the workers, peasants, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, urban poor and other down-trodden –by actively pushing urgent people’s concerns in the halls of the Philippine Congress.

Joseph Canlas is the chairperson of AMGL, a regional chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) of the Philippine Peasant Movement, a nationwide federation of organizations of landless peasant, small farmers, farm workers, subsistence fisherfolk, peasant women and rural youth that advocates the struggles for a revolutionary agrarian reform program that will abolish all forms of feudal and semi-feudal exploitation and will implement a free and equitable distribution of land resources to tillers; a rural development program complementing agrarian reform that encourages agricultural cooperation among farmers and enhances local production and productivity; economic nationalism and freedom from foreign domination and control, particularly by the US and Japan through national industrialization.

He is also the regional coordinator of ANAKPAWIS, a national political party that promotes, advocates, and advances the patriotic and democratic aspirations of marginalized sectors of workers, peasants, fisherfolk, and other urban and rural poor – envisioning that the participation in the national legislature or the present Congress is an opportunity to further strengthen the programs and campaigns of the toiling masses for genuine and significant reforms.

Angie Ladera is Chairperson of WAR3. WAR3 is a trade union alliance promoting and defending the rights and welfare of workers and union members in Central Luzon region.

She is the younger sister of the slain Tarlac City Councilor Abelardo Ladera, a staunch supporter of the of striking Hacienda Luisita farm and sugar mill workers shot on March 3, 2005.