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Solidarity of Transport Alliance in Northern Mindanao-Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide secretary general Ringo Lago (right) condemns the arrests of Lumad and farmers group leaders Jomorito Goaynon and Ireneo Udarbe in Patag, this city, on Monday and four other activists in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental on Wednesday night during a demonstration at the Press Freedom Monument on Thursday afternoon, calling it a crackdown on street parliamentarians. (photo by Nitz Arancon)

Capitol says Mofa is legitimate group: CIDG files illegal arms, explosive raps vs 4 activists

By SHIELA MAE BUTLIG
and NITZ ARANCON
Correspondents . 

GOV. Yevgeny Vincente Emano yesterday said he was saddened over the arrest of two officials and staff members of a farmers’ group that the capitol called a legitimate organization of human rights advocates and farmers.

Emano said this even as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) pressed charges of illegal possession of  firearms, illegal possession of explosive, and violation of the election gun ban against the four suspects who were accused of links to the New People’s Army (NPA).

Charged were Jerry and Gerald Basahon, and Marivic and Mylene Colita.

Jerry is the chairman while Gerald is a council member of the Misamis Oriental Farmers’ Association (Mofa). The two Colitas are staff members of Mofa.

A capitol statement said Mofa “is a legitimate group of farmers organized to protect their human rights as farmers.”

A statement released by capitol spokesman Florito “Carlo” Dugaduga quoted Emano as saying that while he understands that it is the work of the police to secure citizens, he wants to know the “real reason” why the Mofa members were arrested.

“Kinahanglan sa sayong panahon pa lang motim-aw na ang kamatuoran,” the capitol statement quoted Emano as saying. “Angay lamang gayud nga mopatigbabaw ang kamatuoran sa gilambigitan sa pipila ka miyembro sa grupo kon ngano sila nabalhog karon sa buhatan sa Criminil Investigation and Detection Group… Unta sa sayong panahon motumaw ra gayud ang kamatuoran alang sa hustisya ug kaangayan.”

The capitol went public with its position even as activists cried foul over the arrest of the Mofa members in Looc, Villanueva, Misamis Oriental on Wednesday night, and prominent activists’ group leaders Jomorito Goaynon and Ireneo Udarbe in Patag, this city, on Monday.

Insp. Princess Joy Velarde, Misamis Oriental police spokesperson, said the CIDG filed the complaint against the Mofa members at the Provincial Prosecutors’ Office yesterday afternoon.

The Mofa members’ lawyer, Czarina Musni, said the two Basahons and two Colitas have asked the prosecution office 10 days to submit their counter-affidavits. She said her clients also asked for preliminary investigation.

Incidentally, Musni, a member of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, is also lawyering for Goaynon and Udarbe.

Musni said authorities planted evidence against the suspects.

Police said the Basahons and Colitas were arrested during a raid in a house cum Mofa office in Looc, Villanueva town based on a search warrant issued by a judge. They have been detained at CIDG regional headquarters in Patag.

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