By JOEY NACALABAN, Correspondent .
POLICE arrested the leader of the League of Filipino Students (LFS) in northern Mindanao in what authorities claimed to be an anti-narcotics operation at a beach in Linamon, Lanao del Norte, late Wednesday afternoon.
It was the second time for the activist Kristine Cabardo to be arrested in a week’s time. She was among the so-called “Gensan 13,” a group of activists and Iglesia Filipina Independiente volunteers, arrested and subsequently freed in Gen. Santos City last week.
Cabardo was arrested by the police at around 5 pm Wednesday at a beach in Purok 1, Barangay Samburon, Linamon town in Lanao del Norte together with her stepfather, her mother Mary Ann and younger brother.
The activist and at least two others were subsequently released but not her mother who is facing drug charges.
Activist Vennel Chenfoo of the group Kabataan, who is also among those arrested and later freed in Gen. Santos, said Cabardo and her companions were handcuffed and then hauled off to a police station.
Police alleged that the utility box of a motorcycle owned by Cabardo’s stepfather contained three sachets of suspected shabu.
Authorities also alleged that her 42-year-old mother Mary Ann yielded four sachets of suspected shabu with an estimated street value of P500 thousand, and two cellphones.
Senior Insp. Teodoro Gallego, Linamon police chief, asserted that it was a “genuine” buy-and-bust operation and that Mary Ann was the target of the police operation.
Gallego said shabu was supposed to be sold to poseur buyers at a gas station but the place was changed to the beach.
Gallego said Kristine and two others were released after Mary Ann allegedly confessed to the crime.
Mary Ann allegedly yielded a marked money of P200.
But Chenfoo, quoting the LFS chairperson, maintained that the police planted the pieces of evidence.
In a statement, Kabataan condemned what it said was “the state’s desperation to silence activists such as Kristine who champions the rights of basic sectors.”
The group added: “We condemn their desperate moves, going as far as charging families for crimes that they did not commit.”