Activist groups stormed the Manila Police District Headquarters in Ermita today to condemn what they describe as Gestapo-like arrests of three activists in Tondo in the early hours of the morning.

Combined agents of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the MPD raided the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Manila office and presented a search warrant to Bayan Manila Campaign Director Ram Carlo Bautista.

Upon allegedly possessing firearms and ammunition, Bautista was arrested along with two others present in the office, namely Alma Moran of Manila Workers Unity and Reina Mae Nacino of Kadamay Manila.

Crackdown?

Today’s arrest follows the capture of Gabriela Metro Manila spokesperson Cora Agovida, her husband Kadamay Education and Research officer Michael Bartolome, and 57 members of various people’s organizations in Negros on October 31.

Activists slammed Executive Order 70, which President Rodrigo Duterte signed in December last year to employ a ‘whole-of-nation’ approach to the government’s so-called counterinsurgency program against Communist rebels and what they dub as legal fronts.

“Ang martial law dito sa Metro Manila ay umiiral sa pamamagitan ng Oplan Kalasag. Ginagamit ang Oplan na ito upang patahimikin ang mga aktibistang nagsusulong ng mga karapatan ng mahihirap, ” said Anakbayan Metro Manila chair Mark Fernando.

Rights group Karapatan Metro Manila lambasted Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge Cecilyn Villavert for issuing the search warrants which led to the arbitrary arrests. The group warned that at least ten search warrants may have been signed by the judge, only four of them have been served in Negros and Manila.

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