Militant groups fear more arrests of ‘silent’ activists

(From right) Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Union treasurer Helen Pastolero, ACT-Panay regional coordinator Rolando Asis, Bayan-Panay secretary general Reylan Vergara, and Anakbayan spokesperson Bryan Bosque slam what they labeled as the state’s crackdown on “silent” activists during a press conference on June 11, 2018. (Louine Hope Conserva)

MILITANT groups in Panay said they fear that the arrest of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) leader Maria Teresa Cabales is a prelude to the crackdown on more “silent” activists.

In a press conference on June 11, 2018 in Iloilo City, Reylan Vergara, deputy secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Panay, said that unlike other members of progressive groups, Cabales was never actively seen protesting on the streets.

Vergara said the ACT leader is “silently” doing her job in fighting for the rights of teachers.

Nakulbaan man kami…Indi lang ina diri nagakatabo but nationwide. Gina-filan kag ginahimu-himun kaso. Waay kita nakahibalo sang mga ginapangfile sang AFP kag police nga may John Doe and Jane Doe… Amo na ang matabo sa aton sa ulihi,” he added.

Police nabbed Cabales on the morning of June 8, 2018, for rebellion charges. She is the wife of Roberto Cabales, an alleged leader of the New People’s Army (NPA) Komiteng Rehiyon-Panay (KR-P) Central Front Committee.

Cabales, 61, of Brgy. San Juan, Molo, Iloilo was arrested while crossing a street at Tanza-Timawa village, City Proper.

Joint operatives of the Regional Crime Investigation and Detection Unit 6 (RCIDU-6), Regional Intelligence Division (RID), and Philippine Army Intelligence Security Group (PA-ISG) served an arrest warrant to Cabales for rebellion charges docketed as Criminal Case Number C-171857-09.

Police Regional Office (PRO-6) Regional Director John Bulalacao presented her to the media after the arrest.

Cabales – along with alleged NPA leaders Reynaldo Bocala, Ronie Cañon, and Rogina Oillop – were charged for engaging government troops in Tapaz, Capiz on Feb 7, 2017.

They allegedly detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) which resulted in the death of Corporal Ricky Bill Fariñas and injury of Staff Sergeant William Vidal Jr. and Private First Class Donald Lisbo.

Vergara said Cabales was immediately released after she posted the P40,000 bail.



Militant groups condemned the arrest of Cabales, which Vergara said was a violation of her human rights.

Vergara said the act of the police to present her to the media gave rise to the presumption of her guilt.

“A detainee is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court. Ang makapamatuod lang nga nakahimo ka sang sala ang korte, ang PNP indi ikaw dapat magdeclare nga ang tawo nakasala,” he said.

the National Union of People’s Lawyer (NUPL) is assisting Cabales in verifying pending court cases against her.

Meanwhile, Helen Pastolero, ACT Union treasurer, could not contain her emotions as she narrated the good deeds of Cabales.

Sa adlaw-adlaw nga pagkitaay namon gina-obligar niya gid ang iya obligasyon sa sulod sang union – kun ano mga kinahanglanon namon kag ang mga refresher sa kun ano ang amon kinamatarong,” she said.

Pastolero also lamented the Duterte administration’s failure to improve the benefits of teachers as well as the effect of the tax reform law on their lives.

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