TACLOBAN CITY – Gina Badillo was already teary-eyed while listening to the speaker before her. The memory of what happened to her husband, James Badillo, on the 10th of November last year is still fresh for her.
James Badillo was illegally arrested and tortured by members of the 87th Infantry Battalion Philippine Army while on his way home to Tag-alag, Marabut, Samar. He was then brought to the camp of the said battalion in Calbiga, Samar before he was sent to the Marabut police station and was filed with a case on the illegal possession of explosives. Badillo is just one of the 28 civilians in Eastern Visayas and 344 in the whole country who were arrested for their political beliefs. All of them are tagged as members and supporters of the New People’s Army (NPA) and are facing false charges according to Katungod Eastern Visayas.
In a press conference yesterday, September 8, held at the University of the Philippines Visayas College Tacloban City (UPVTC), Gina Badillo and other families of victims of illegal arrests and extrajudicial killings in Eastern Visayas, convened as Hustisya Eastern Visayas, urged the Duterte administration to stop the incessant illegal arrests of peasant leaders and civilians falsely tagged as members of the NPA.
Rodrigo Lagucay, father of Erwin Lagucay who has just been sentenced with life imprisonment, said that the number of civilians charged with trumped-up charges increases as the political situation of the countr worsens.
Human rights groups Katungod Eastern Visayas and Hustisya Eastern Visayas, in fact, are disturbed with the return of former President and House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who is for her atrocities in the Eastern Visayas region especially after her right-arm former Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan ‘butchered’ the Samar and Leyte islands. With the revival of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACoLA), the former Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) of the Arroyo administration, more activists and members of progressive organizations are expected to be filed with fabricated charges.
“This is the Duterte government’s way to silence the people who criticize his anti-people policies,” Lagucay pressed.
Gina Badillo, on the other hand, call on the Duterte administration to release all political prisoners in the country and pursue the peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
Of the twenty-eight political prisoners in Eastern Visayas, four of them were imprisoned under the Duterte administration and nine were sentenced with life imprisonment according to Hustisya Eastern Visayas.