Bencyrus Ellorin .
THINGS are a little shaking when it hits home or close to home.
Two Saturdays ago, I got a call from a former colleague in the media about the capture of Myles Albasin, daughter of journalist Grace Cantal-Albasin. Myles who just graduated with a Mass Communications degree from UP Cebu is my ina-anak. Her mom is a friend and a colleague in journalism since our college days. I had recruited her to join the Crusader publication and later on into another daily here where she would later on become editor-in-chief. We were active in the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines where I was vice president for Mindanao from 1994 to 1996.
We were activists, I think, depending on one’s perspective, and we still are. I still am.
I last met Myles some three years ago at the University of San Carlos-Talamban campus. A frail looking lady approached me to make amin (ouch) after I gave a lecture on press freedom. She looked like she could not hurt a fly. I learned then that she was active in campus activism, just like her ninong.
It should not come as a surprise that Guilders alumni of the CEGP from all over the globe — Europe, US, Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Davao — were soon gathered on social media. Our group can aptly be called “Tito and Tita of Myles.” Calling for Myles’ freedom became natural.
Myles and her family, we all know, are fighting a stiff fight. No less than the State’s security forces, the holder of the coercive powers of the state, are levied against Myles. Her family, and like us also bear the brunt.
By military account, Myles was arrested with five persons after an armed encounter in the early morning hours of Mabinay, Negros Oriental. Allegedly seized from them were high-powered firearms and explosives.
It is understandable, the military considers them priced catch, with no less than a new graduate of UP in the net. Their capture is also media forage.
Soon the anti-communist insurgency propaganda machinery sprung to action. Trolls and people alike were quick in condemning Myles and her family. There is so much hate.
But wait, there are urgent questions hanging. If indeed there was a firefight, do Myles and her companions have specials powers, a habak or lana of sort, they were able to dodge bullets? They were unscathed. And if they shoot it out, are they such poor shots, the operating unit of the Philippine Army came out pristine.
Witnesses have claimed the youngsters were deep in dreamlandia when soldiers volted in.
Students, young people going to poor communities is nothing new and not wrong. When I was in college, I would spend weekends in farmer and fisherfolk communities. I wrote about their oppression and exploitation. I marched with them on the streets and worked to enhance their livelihood and assisted in empowering them with adult education.
Nothing wrong with that.
For a second, I would appeal for people not to jump the gun on Myles, her family and friends. She is now under detention. A case is undergoing preliminary investigation by the prosecutors from the Department of Justice.
It is worthy to point out the inconsistency of state propaganda to the legal suit of illegal possession of firearms and explosives they filed against Myles and her five companions. The state propaganda vilifies them as “NPA, communist terrorists.”
This is so consistent with the government’s line of labeling progressive dissenters as terrorists.
Let us give her the presumption of innocence and due process.
I still cannot understand why despite the strong social capital of the present regime, it is so onion-skinned to dissent, to the point of labeling the political opposition as enemies of the state.
If indeed Myles and her companions are rebels, then by all means, the State should charge them in court as such. But why, oh why, weren’t they charged with rebellion? Are they not confident with their evidence?
We are still governed by the rule of law and not of whimsical men and women in government. The Revised Penal Code still distinguishes political offenses from common crimes.
Myles and her companions are not common criminals and should not be treated as such.
- For those who fall for the State propaganda that Myles and Co. are rebels and terrorists, why don’t you execute affidavits and testify against them? If you cannot, better shut up. Remember the 10 Commandments make a sin false witness against thy fellow person. Halaka mo!