By J. Jala| 10:30 PM January 28, 2021
Peasant group Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon (Humabol) has called on Bohol Provincial Prosecution Office to junk the complaints against farmers and development workers.
“Humabol calls on the Provincial Prosecutor of Bohol to junk the unfounded complaint of murder and frustrated murder against Joemar Pogio, Ira Pamat, Raquel Autida, Nelson Lumantas and farmers Brando Compoc and Alfie Sarsale,” it said in a statement Wednesday posted on Facebook.
Pogio, Pamat, Autida, Compoc, Sarsale, and Lumantas are among the 37 respondents accused of murder and frustrated murder for the death of Private First Class (PFC) Gerald Villanueva during an encounter between the 47th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army (IBPA) and alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on February 29, 2020 in the mountains of Barangay Cansumbol, Bilar, Bohol.
Humabol said Pogio has been baselessly accused of murder in a complaint filed at the Provincial Prosecution Office of Bohol.
Pogio who still continues to recuperate from a nearly fatal motorcycle accident in 2019 leaving him semi-crippled to this day. However, his physical limitation due to the accident has not stopped state agents from harassing him.
Pogio, officer of the Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa San Miguel (NAMASA-Humabol), was among 37 respondents accused of murder and frustrated murder over the death of a certain PFC Gerald Villanueva during an encounter between the 47th IB Philippine Army and alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) on Feb. 29, 2020 at the hinterlands of Brgy. Cansumbol, Bilar.
Along with Joemar as respondents are Ira Pamat, a long-time human rights worker and Executive Director of the non-government organization Women’s Development Center (WDC) who has been providing livelihood and paralegal assistance to women and farmers for over three decades now; Raquel Autida, formerly of Gabriela-Bohol; farmers Brando Compoc and Alfie Sarsale; and again, Nelson Lumantas.
In 2019, Nelson Lumantas, then Secretary General of Humabol, who was absurdly accused of ambushing government troops 19 years ago, when he was still working as cook of a known department store in Tagbilaran City.
In Bohol, attacks against activists and farmers have increased in recent years. Farmer and barangay tanod Pelagio Compoc was killed on January 22, 2020 in Barangay Dagohoy, Bilar, cultural activist Marlon Maldos on March 17, 2020 in Dela Paz, Cortes, and former HUMABOL district leader Lorenzo Paña on December 30, 2020 in Barangay Bantolinao, Antequera.
Adding to the attacks is the arrest and detention of Anakpawis-Bohol coordinator and cultural group Bol-anong Artista nga may Diwang Dagohoy (BANSIWAG)’s creative director Alvin Fortaliza who was also accused of murder last March 4, 2019.
Humabol also called on the Duterte administration “to stop its madness and persecution of people demanding for social justice and accountability, and to instead direct its efforts toward assisting farmers and other sectors worst affected by the pandemic,” as well as to redirect the P19 billion budget of the NTF-ELCAC to social services, to punish those involved in the P15 billion Philhealth corruption scandal, and to focus on an efficient Covid-19 response.