LOS BAÑOS, Laguna--The youth group Anakbayan in Southern Tagalog slammed on Tuesday the arrest of 15 protesters in Batangas City on Monday, claiming that it was part of a crackdown against militants in the region.
John Paulo Bautista, Anakbayan-ST chair, said, "It is clear that the wholesale filing of criminal cases against activists in the region has become the Arroyo government's policy in facing the protest of the people."
Among the 15 arrested are leaders of militant groups in Batangas.
They are Isagani Iseta, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan)-Batangas spokesperson; Thelma Maranan, Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap-Batangas spokesperson, and June Arante, Anakbayan-Batangas secretary-general.
They were arrested at around 11:30 a.m. on Monday while marching toward the city mayor's office.
They were supposed to seek a dialogue with Mayor Eddie Dimacuha, Bautista added.
Other members of militant organizations in the region are facing criminal charges for allegedly being involved in an ambush against government troops in Calapan City on March 2006.
Among them is Pedro Santos Jr., former secretary-general of Anakbayan-Southern Tagalog.