A group of young artists has slammed the arrest in Marikina City last week of a former University of the Philippines (UP) student and his wife who, according to the police, were high-ranking officials of the New People’s Army.
In a statement, Kabataang Artista para sa Tunay na Kalayaan (Karatula) said the manner in which Juan Pablo Versoza, a member of the group’s UP Diliman-based chapter Alay Sining, and his wife Grace were arrested was illegal, because the warrant served by the police was defective.
Authorities earlier said the two were arrested in Barangay Parang last Friday based on the arrest warrant issued by a court in Samar province where the couple had been charged with robbery with homicide and illegal possession of firearms.
According to the group, the warrant contained just aliases and the real names of the couple were listed only when they were detained at the Eastern Police District headquarters.
“How can an alias legitimately be used in an arrest? That alias could be anybody yet they choose to target two innocent people. There is no basis for the arrest,” said Jay del Rosario, Karatula vice chair.
The group also added the police did not inform the couple of the reason for their arrest nor were they shown the warrant issued by the court.
“[The authorities] obviously didn’t show them the warrant in order to rig the official reports later on,” Del Rosario claimed.
The group added that the couple’s “basic rights to due process” were violated, saying the “trumped-up charges” were “politically motivated.”
“It is clear that the actions of the 8th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces are politically motivated under the Aquino regime’s Oplan Bayanihan counterinsurgency campaign,” the group said.
“These ridiculous charges are attempts of the military to repress progressive artists and individuals critical of the administration,” it said as it added that there has been an additional 293 political prisoners since 2010.
According to the group, it will conduct a “fervent campaign” for the release of the couple from the Samar provincial jail in Catbalogan, where they were transferred following their arrest.