Peasant group cries foul over arrests of village councilor, pastor

By Marisol Bo-oc | 10:26 AM June 26, 2021

Image: Handout

Peasant group Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Humabol-KMP) condemned the arrest of a village councilor and a pastor on Friday morning in Trinidad and Mabini towns.

In a statement, Humabol-KMP said the illegal arrest of Carmilo Tabada in his home in Barangay Poblacion in Trinidad town and Nathaniel Vallente in Barangay San Jose in Mabini town by joint military and police forces in an early morning raid, June 25, was “a (Synchronized Enhanced Managing of Police Operations) SEMPO-like operation that also resulted to arrests and killings of peasants in Negros Oriental in 2018.”

Image: 47th IB

“The illegal arrests were based solely on fabricated evidence. The grenade and .45 caliber pistols supposedly seized from Carmilo and Pastor Dodo were all PLANTED evidence and are the usual overused incriminating items utilized by state security forces now notoriously known in the international community for fabricating evidences and extrajudicial killing of mere suspects as the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda found reasonable basis that these government forces are indeed unlawfully killing civilians, ” the statement said.

Humabol-KMP said Tabada would not store firearms in his house since his house is located just a shout away from the police station and municipal hall of Trinidad and
Vallente’s househouse is just beside the national highway in Brgy. San Jose.

Image: 47th IB

“Carmilo’s and Pastor Dodo’s arrest came after similar arrests on planted evidence were executed by the police and military against farmer Alfie Sarsale and farmer-leader Oscar Balonga on April 30 and April 7, respectively, this year,” it said.

Carmilo Tabada is an incumbent councilor of Brgy. Poblacion, Trinidad and long-time Bohol coordinator of the non-government organization Farmers Development Center (FARDEC), while Nathaniel Vallente, widely known as Pastor Dodo in the religious community, is a pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) administering 4 churches.

Humabol-KMP said both Tabada and Vallente are fierce fighters and defenders of farmers’ land rights and dedicated most of their lives for this cause, without material benefit for their own families.

“Unyielding in their principle to stand with farmers in the struggle for social justice and unstoppable in their committment to hold the fascist Duterte regime accountable for its crimes against the people, Carmilo and Pastor Dodo are targeted for neutralization by state forces as exhibited by the latter’s continous red-tagging spree and forcing the victims to surrender to supposedly “clear” their names,” it said.

Tabada, along with Humabol leaders including Danilo Olayvar, has been openly red-tagged by the military since 2012 and through flyers distributed by unidentfied men all over the province, the statement said.

“Humabol-KMP believes that the Provincial Prosecutor of Bohol can clearly see through the lies peddled by the police and military units responsible for the illegal arrest of Carmilo and Pastor Dodo and will outrightly dismiss the riduculously invented charges based on planted evidence against the two, ” it said.

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