DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 July) – Police authorities arrested on Monday two members of the Kabataan Partylist in Southern Mindanao Region shortly after the protest rally at Freedom Park along Roxas Avenue here.
The Davao City Police Office (DCPO) identified those arrested as Mawing Pangadas, 19; and Ismael Pangadas, 23, both residents of Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod in Davao del Norte.
The two attended the People’s SONA 2022 protest assembly in time for the 1st State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and were arrested while waiting for a jeepney ride home.
Both of them had standing warrants of arrest issued by Judge Jimmy Bustillo Boco of the Regional Trial Court Branch 2 in Tagum City, Davao del Norte for violation of the Anti-Trafficking of Persons Act of 2003 last June 7, 2022.
The two brothers denied these allegations in a TV interview.
“It’s not true… it’s a lie, Sir,” Ismael said in the vernacular when interviewed by a reporter for PTV News Mindanao.
“We did no such thing,” Mawing seconded. He claimed that the children they were accused of trafficking were their younger relatives.
In a statement, Kabataan Partylist-SMR condemned the arrest of its members based on “trumped-up cases of child trafficking and other baseless allegations.”
“The illegal arrest was done after the protest action. The police did not even bother to read them their rights. This is clearly fascism in action, blatantly disregarding due process and trampling on human rights,” it said.
It added that the youth are not safe under the Marcos administration.
“Dissenters are being illegally arrested and detained. Kabataan Partylist-SMR urges every youth to expose the attack done by the Philippine National Police (PNP) against the youth,” it said.
In a statement, KAPATID, a support organization of families and friends of political prisoners in the Philippines working for their release and the protection of their rights and welfare, deplored the arrest made by authorities in the city.
“It is the height of irony that two Lumad youths were arrested in what is supposed to be the Freedom Park of Davao City while their former Mayor and now Vice President and Secretary of Education also ordered the closure of Lumad schools as she paraded in Lumad Bagobo attire during the SONA,” it said.
It demands the immediate release of the Lumad brothers, the “first victims of trumped-up politically motivated cases under the Marcos-Duterte administration.”
The group called these charges “absurd,” saying it is “Lumad people who are systematically being trafficked out of their ancestral lands to give way to destructive mining and logging operations.”
“No costumery or gimmickry can hide the real character of this regime. The arrest of the Pangadas brothers signifies the continuity of political repression and the further oppression and marginalization of indigenous groups under the new dispensation,” it added. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews, with reports from Veda Sachi Daliling / MindaNews intern)