Kin and supporters demand release of Bob Reyes, all political prisoners

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The family of detained trade unionist Juan Alexander “Bob” Reyes, along with human rights advocates and people’s organizations under the banner of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Quezon City launched the Free Bob Reyes Movement at the Commission on Human Rights today.

Condemning the administration’s “vicious and escalating crackdown on activists”, they reiterated their call to release Reyes and 500 other political prisoners across the country.

“The US-backed madman in Malacanang can no longer quell the ever-growing dissent of the people against his fascist dictatorship, thus turns his ire on the national democratic movement and legal opposition. He has gotten so desperate in fulfilling his tyrant ambitions, even resorting to the arrest of innocent workers’ rights defenders like Bob”, said Bagong Alyansang Makabayan spokesperson Benjamin Cordero.

Trumped-up charges

Reyes of the Sandigan ng mga Manggagawa sa Quezon City and Defend Job Philippines was abducted by suspected state agents on June 2, 2018 at Kapilian St., Brgy. San Antonio, Muñoz, Quezon City. He was shoved inside a white sports utility vehicle before being handcuffed and blindfolded with a bonnet. It was only when he arrived at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) – National Capital Region office and was interrogated by combined elements of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines that a warrant of arrest was shown.

According to police reports, Reyes was arrested based on charges of murder and arson for alleged incidents in Agusan del Norte as well as illegal possession of firearms and explosives on the day of his arrest. He had been detained Camp Crame before he was transferred to the Quezon City Jail.

Reyes’ wife slammed the “ridiculous” trumped-up charges against his husband, saying that Bob only brought a small sling bag which could not carry firearms and explosives. She also said that Bob has never been to the province of Agusan all his life.

“The spate of arbitrary arrests and political persecution under the Duterte regime is relentless. Activists are being accused of terrorism when the US-Duterte regime itself remains the largest, most organized terrorist syndicate in the country.” Cordero said, citing the recent arrest of former organizers of Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

More arrests

On August 11, 2018, Rowena and Oliver Rosales were pulled off by masked men in civilian clothing while onboard their privately-owned tricycle at Galvez St., Brgy. Wawa, Balagtas, Bulacan. Rowena was immediately thrown at the back of a black vehicle, her eyes covered while earphones were plugged on her ears. Oliver, on the other hand was boarded in a separate vehicle. The couple was brought to the CIDG in Quezon City where they were shown a warrant of arrest for charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the same warrant used against Reyes, also a former member of COURAGE.

Members of COURAGE filed a writ of amparo in August 2015, seeking for protection after a series of threats and surveillance by state forces.

The arrests and detention of political activists heightened after the termination of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

As of August 20, 2018, there are 511 documented political prisoners in the country, 181 of whom were arrested under President Duterte, according to human rights group Karapatan.

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