The Amihan or the National Federation of Peasant Women reiterated its call for unconditional and immediate release of women activists Imelda Pasinabo Sultan and Ma. Lindy Perocho, the fifteen minors including the eight female youth activists, and all arrested dubbed as “Negros 57” who fell victims to the wholesale violation of basic rights perpetrated by elements of the police and military on October 31 and November 1, in Bacolod City and Escalante City, respectively in Negros Occidental province.  The victims are being charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

“We denounce the political persecution of activists in Negros and we call for their immediate releases.  This is a blatant violation of rights of peasants, women and children, all packaged in simultaneous operations of Duterte’s armed goons in Negros, empowered by his Memorandum Order 32 or the order to attack activists in Negros, Samar and Bicol,” Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson said in a press statement.

The following day of the Bacolod City mass arrest, Sultan was arrested in Escalante City at dawn, by elements of the police, SWAT and Special Action Force (SAF).  She is a staff of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) and was framed with possessing firearms and explosives.  Almost simultaenously, Perocho was also arrested when her house was raided.

“The Duterte regime grossly errs when it is deluding itself it could quell the protest movement in Negros.  Amid the vast sea of landlessness and poverty, activists will always arise and protest anti-people, anti-peasant and anti-women policies,” Soriano stressed.

Amihan joined the indignation protest early morning in front of the Camp Crame in Quezon City.  It also slammed the issuance of a dubious search warrant against the activists, which was issued by Quezon City judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert, who also issued the warrant against the women activist Cora Agovida, who was arrested Thursday early morning in Manila.

“This is not a simple attack on activists, but a head-on desecration of human rights and democratic principles in our country.  We indulge Duterte’s absolutist fantasy, if we fail to oppose these measures as united Filipinos against a tyrant.  We urge the democratic sectors to resist his road to an authoritarian regime, where critics and opposition are repressed and persecuted,” she ended. ###

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