Regional labor center Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan – Kilusang Mayo Uno (PAMANTIK-KMU) condemns the illegal arrest of labor organizer Ernesto Lorenzo and his wife, Joyce Latayan by combined efforts from government agents from the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Crime Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) last Monday.
Lorenzo was a longtime trade union advisor and is now a consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).
“Lorenzo and Latayan’s incarceration is expected to add to BS Aquino boasting of his ‘war medallions’ in time for his last State of the Nation Address (SONA),” said Allan Bagas, secretary-general of PAMANTIK-KMU.
According to accounts, Lorenzo left their house in San Jose del Monte town in Bulacan to buy computer components and gadgets in Gilmore, Quezon City, when at 12 noon, seven agents in plain clothing approached him as the former left the comfort room. The agents told Lorenzo to come with them, since the latter had cases.
Lorenzo, alarmed, asked them who they were and clarified that he was not a criminal. Unfettered, the agents restrained him, while immediately informing the public that he was not a criminal. With commotion ensuing, CIDG agents quickly led him out and transported him to a black car, which presented no warrant of arrest upon request.
Such arrests are deemed illegal by Philippine law, as a warrant of arrest is necessary to restrain someone.
Lorenzo also had with him immunity from arrest since he was protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees as a NDFP peace consultant, under Document of Identification No. ND978299 under the assumed name Lean Martinez. It was dismissed by CIDG agents.
He was then brought to Philippine National Police (PNP) general headquarters in Camp Crame and was asked for coordination, or else, his wife will be detained too. However, while suffering handcuff wounds, remained calm and requested for an attorney. He also denied them samples of his DNA.
Meanwhile, at 2:15 PM, his wife, Joyce Latayan, was at their house when she noticed shadows by the doorway – which, upon close examination, were three plainclothes men. When she opened the door, the agents confirmed if she was Joyce Latayan, and stormed the house afterwards. Looking outside, Latayan noticed that twelve cars were parked nearby.
As the incognito agents allegedly searched the house, they brought planted evidence – sling bags full of M203 rifle grenades, ammunition and explosives. The agents also failed to present a warrant of arrest.
They left behind their 2 children with a guardian. Lorenzo faces alleged charges of destructive arson in Lucena City, Quezon province. Latayan is slapped with only a search warrant from Cabanatuan City and a jump bail from her case last 2008.
Bagas slammed the unlawful apprehension as another desperate attempt to silence activists and critics of the Aquino regime, which he said was genuinely guilty of crimes against the people.
“As BS Aquino’s administration wanes away, he does not leave without a mark – which will only be much worse than his predecessors’. The arrests of Lorenzo and Latayan will only be marked in the future as another transgression against the people, while the Aquino administration carries on with its anti-worker and anti-people programs under US dictates,” he added.
After their detention, the list of illegal detention cases now mounts to about 727, per figures of human rights group Karapatan. Such detainees, or political prisoners, suffer from poor living conditions in detention centers, which in one case led to the untimely death of Andrea Rosal’s unborn daughter, Diona Andrea.
Lorenzo, an asthmatic, also suffers from a slipped disk, hypertension and Hepatitis-B. Jail guards are currently preventing immediate medical attention to respond to his needs.
Meanwhile, protests are expected to be held in different parts of the region and central government agencies in the following days.
“The cruel arrest serves as another stain on BS Aquino’s reputation as a so-called ‘protector of human rights,’ which his armed forces claim to be. Cases of human rights violations, including those of Lorenzo and Latayan, only contribute to the people’s call to oust Aquino, and will lead to a larger protest come his last SONA,” ended Bagas. ###