Teachers from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) march to the House of Representative in Quezon City. The teachers launched 'Grand Lobbying Protest Day' asking for a salary increase at the House of Representatives. GETTY IMAGES

ILOILO City – The militant Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) in Western Visayas has accused the national government of harassment.

The recent arrest of Maria Teresa Drilon Cabales, ACT regional staff, aimed to weaken the alliance, claimed Helen Pastolero, a public school teacher and treasurer of the group.

Policemen arrested Cabales, a rebel suspect, in Barangay Timawa-Tanza I, Molo district on June 8.

“The government knows we, public schools teachers, are getting more assertive in fighting for our rights and welfare such as demanding for bigger salaries,” said Pastolero.

Cabales was arrested four days after ACT, during the resumption of classes on June 4, pressed for an increase in the salary of government teachers.

Pastolero said Cabales, a nurse but non-practicing, was in charge of the paperwork of ACT Western Visayas.

But according to Chief Superintendent John Bulalacao, regional police director, Cabales was part of the New People’s Army Panay’s medical staff.

“She is holding a sensitive position. Being a medical staff and liaison, she provides financial and medical support to hospitalized members,” said Bulalacao.

Meanwhile, the Panay human rights alliance Karapatan warned of more arrests targeting activists.

“We are worried. Seryoso ini ang pamahog ni (President Rodrigo) Duterte. Indi lang diri nagakatabo sa Panay but nationwide activists are gina file-lan himu-himo nga kaso,” said Reyland Vergara, Karapatan.

He urged the public to help defend human rights advocates.

“Indi dapat kita mahadlok. Dapat pangibabawan ang ining pagpang-atake ni Duteret sa kubay sang aton pumolyo,” said Vergara.

Hours after her arrest, Cabales was able to post bail. She denied being a rebel.

 “Ari lang ko ‘ya diri nagatrabaho as staff sang una sang isa ka nongovernment organization. Subong ara ako sa isa ka regional union,” she said.

Cabales said she was being unfairly accused because of her husband.

According to Bulalacao, Cabales’ husband Roberto was the secretary of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ Central Front Committee in Panay Island.

Roberto remains at large.

Cabales, a native of Bacolod City, had a pending arrest warrant issued on Oct. 12, 2017 by Judge Judith Orendain-Tonogbanua of the Regional Trial Court (Branch 20) in Mambusao, Capiz, said Bulalacao.

It was an offshoot of the encounter between government troops and rebels in Sitio Agbalante, Barangay Tacayan, Tapaz, Capiz that killed Private First Class Ricky Bill Farinas and wounded Staff Sergeant William Viado, he added.

“Meron pang mga warrants of arrest na kinukuha and will be served against her,” said Bulalacao./PN


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