The National Federation of Peasant Women (Amihan) urged Judge Julie Rita Suarez-Badillo of the Municipal Trial Court of Norzagaray, Bulacan to dismiss the charges of usurpation of authority against former Anakpawis Partylist Representative Ariel Casilao and inciting to sedition against the six Sagip Kanayunan relief volunteers as the arraignment on the cases is set this morning.

“Helping the poor and marginalized is not a crime. Speaking up and providing critique against the government’s COVID-19 response is every Filipino’s right guaranteed by the Constitution. These pending cases are trumped-up charges meant to intimidate and harass activists and progressive organizations especially at a time when more and more Filipinos are demanding government accountability in its failure to address the socio-economic crisis brought about by the pandemic,” Amihan national chairperson Zenaida Soriano said.

“As the country has reached more than 31,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 despite more than three months of lockdown and billions of pesos as response fund, as millions of Filipinos suffer from unemployment, as the Duterte government fails to offer concrete plans on how to effectively flatten the curve, it is every Filipino’s duty to speak and hold the government accountable. It is the government’s responsibility to heed the people’s demands and stop criminalizing dissent,” Soriano added.

“Illegal arrests and detention and other forms of human rights abuses will only intensify once the Anti-Terrorism Bill is passed into law. The worsening situation of the country amid the pandemic could only be blamed on the misplaced priorities of the Duterte government focusing on militarist rather than medical solutions,” Soriano said. 

The group also expressed its support for the Marikina 10, a group of jeepney drivers, teachers, and relief workers who were arrested on May 1 while conducting a feeding program in a community in Marikina. Amihan called for the dismissal of the trumped-up charges against them including illegal assembly and violation of RA 11332. Marikina 10 will undergo the preliminary investigation this afternoon. ###

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