Fishers’ group cries foul over arrest of its Bicol regional chair

Manila, Philippines — “We could only imagine the worse things that could happen to the fisherfolk leader if he hasn’t been in the sea when the authorities raided his house on wee hours,” according to the militant fishers’ group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) on Monday, as it slammed as “illegal and based on planted evidences” the arrest of Elwin Mangampo, the group’s regional chair in Bicol, yesterday.

“Mangampo, President of our regional chapter LAMBAT-BICOL, was arrested Sunday morning by combined PNP-CIDG on undoubtedly fabricated charges based on planted evidences,” the group reported.

According to his wife, Elwin was at the sea upon the arrival of elements of the PNP-CIDG in his house at 3am on Sunday.

The arresting authorities waited for Elwin’s return to carry out the search operation by virtue of a search warrant signed by Ligao City, Albay RTC Branch 11 Judge Edwin Ma-alat. The authorities allegedly found firearms and explosives.

“Mangampo is the elected President of Lakas ng mga Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Bicol, leading small fishers in the region on campaigns for fishing rights and coastal protection. He even facilitated our boat dispersal project in Albay province last March,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson said in a statement.

PAMALAKAYA blamed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) as behind the crackdown against activists.

“His questionable arrest is unarguably part of the government’s crackdown against activists and progressive organizations in the Bicol region,” Hicap added.

“Without a doubt, behind this is the government’s anti-communist task force headed by Antonio Parlade, who happens to be the AFP’s Southern Luzon commander covering the Bicol region. Part of its dirty-trick is to target legal democratic organizations in Southern Tagalog and present them as achievements in its anti-insurgency campaign,” Hicap, also former Anakpawis Party-list solon added.

“Mangampo should be immediately and unconditionally released; leave him be and our organization that advances the basic rights of small fisherfolk,” ended Hicap. ###

LAMBAT Bicol Chair Elwin Mangampo during a boat dispersal activity last March, with PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Ka Pando Hicap.

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