May 28, 2009
Yesterday afternoon, elements of 303rd PMG nabbed anti-nuke activist Archie Betan in Samal Bataan, while waiting for an anti-nuke youth forum. In the process, the military ‘discovered’ arms and subversive documents allegedly in his possession.
We strongly condemn the attack against anti-nuke activist Archie Betan, a leader of Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND) in the province of Bataan, a province once again gaining prominence with Congressman Mark Cojuangco’s bid to re-commission the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
We believe that the military planted the arms and subversive documents in order to implicate Bathan.
Unfortunately for us, this is not the first time that the military has attacked young human rights defenders, like Bathan, we have not forgotten what happened to Audie Lucero, a nineteen year old member of YND found face down in a rice field, summarily executed a day before Valentine’s Day in 2006. He was last seen in the company of military and police in Balanga, Bataan.
As for two others who were said to be with Bathan, surely they were talking about the campaign. We as anti-nuke activists talk with anyone on the basis of the anti-BNPP campaign. We believe that Archie has no knowledge of the alleged identity and affiliation of the two.
We are not surprised that many have lost faith in our law enforcement agencies when they dirty their hands with human rights violations.
For the record, Youth for Nationalism and Democracy (YND) is a national mass organization of youth and students committed to upholding genuine freedom and democratic rights and welfare, taking their inspiration from national hero Jose Rizal and the First Propagandists.
YND has made concrete its nationalist stance in various issues since it was formed. It has taken up student concerns like tuition fee increase, rationalization of state colleges and universities (SCUs), commercialization of education, campus repression. Also, its commitment to unite the youth and serve the people extend to taking on issues of a broader perspective like the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), the on-going war in Mindanao, Charter Change, E-VAT, oil deregulation law among others.
Bathan has been with YND during his student days in Baguio, organizing the University of the Cordilleras ( formerly known as Baguio College Foundation), and in coming back to his home province, organizing for YND at Bataan Heroes’ Memorial College and in the Bataan Peninsula State University.
His anti-nuke engagement is only a logical offshoot for a socially-involved individual like him.
We believe that this is the beginning of a crackdown aimed at cooling the fiery protest of the people of Bataan and other advocates perpetuated by the GMA government and its military as well as pro-nuke forces deeply entrenched in the present system.
Force of might and guns are their answer to the irrefutable facts surrounding the BNPP and the bitter reality of nuclear energy, still the most expensive and damaging energy alternative known to man.
Indeed, the pro-nukes have every right to be concerned, since in just a short time, the anti-nuke debate was quickly elevated as a national concern, with veterans and an ever-growing younger crop of anti-nuke advocates galvanized into action.
We demand the immediate and unconditional release of Bathan, the authorities have no reason to hold him. We will not be cowed not silenced by such brute attacks, but remain resolute and steadfast in our stance to uphold youth and students’ democratic rights and welfare as well as continue our efforts in raising awareness of young people against the falsehoods of nuclear power. ####
Elmer Yuri Arisgado -YND Spokesperson