Residents of Barangay Bito-on in Jaro District, Iloilo City foiled the abduction attempt against Wilfredo “Tay Pido” Panuela, 65, leader of the Katilingban sang mga Imol sa Syudad (Kaisog), by state agents this month.
Two intelligence agents were held and brought by the villagefolk at the barangay hall. Without providing any identification, they claimed that they are members of the Philippine Army and the National Bureau of Investigation. Panuela and his wife Josephine have long been subjected to harassment due to their participation in the struggles of the community.
Maura Abellon, leader of the Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap in Panay and Guimaras, believes that the government is behind the attempted abduction, attacks and harassment against urban poor leaders who are resisting demolition and condemning human rights violations. On July 8, the group trooped to the police headquarters in Iloilo City.
On July 7, Salvador Romano was murdered while aboard a motorcycle at Aglipay St., Poblacion, Manjuyod, Negros Oriental. He was a former staff of Karapatan Negros and is currently a member of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). He is the 48th victim of extrajudicial killing in Negros under the Duterte regime.
Harassment against church people criticizing the regime’s crimes and violations of human rights continue unabated in the island. Military elements are currently looking for Rev. Joel Bengbeng of the United Methodist Church (UMC) in Canlaon City and Rev. Brian Ascuit of UMC in San Pedro, Sta. Cruz to purportedly talk to them.
In Ilocos, soldiers are conducting so-called visits under the Joint Campaign Plan Kapanatagan to harass members of the IFI, UMC and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines.