Randy Vegas and Raul Camposano along with other activists and other grassroots organizers are victims of Oplan Bayanihan, the Philippine government's current counter-insurgency policy. They were illegally abducted and detained, charged with trumped up murder cases. Their human rights were suppressed and hampered their noble work of organizing and upholding the public sector workers rights and welfare.
On December 3 2012, Randy and Raul, long-time organizers of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE)*, were surreptitiously abducted in the morning and evening respectively. This took place in the midst of the campaign and the protests of the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) employees’ association, one of the unions to which they were assigned.
Two days after, their families were informed that the two were arrested based on a trumped up case at the Regional Trial Court Branch 64 in Labo, Camarines Norte with five counts of murder, one count of theft and one count of frustrated murder. The charges were filed in connection with their alleged participation in an ambush of the AFP by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Maot, Labo, Camarines Norte on April 29, 2012. The accusation against the “COURAGE 2” is downright absurd because April 29, 2012, was a day when COURAGE organizers including Vegas and Camposano were preparing for the May 1 Labor Day mobilization.
A fact-finding team uncovered many violations in the conduct of the arrest and decried the use of intimidation, mental torture, and deprivation of liberty and security. Both were accosted by arresting officers without proper identification, not properly informed of the reason of the arrest and were deprived of legal counsel during interrogation. Worse was the use of towels and handkerchiefs as blindfolds creating extreme mental anguish to the union organizers who were unable to see who their abductors were and where they were going. Both stated that after their arrest in Metro-Manila, they were blindfolded and handcuffed from Metro-Manila to the Camp Bagong Diwa Detention Center and Daet, Camarines Norte where they were finally incarcerated.
Recently, another trumped up case against them was discovered. They were charged with murder at Tinoc, Ifugao together with other legal activists and organizers. The said case happened in April 25, 2012,barely four days before the ambush incident at Labo, Camarines Norte occurred. This made the trumped up charges even more questionable and manifested the implementation of Oplan Bayanihan, the Philippine government’s counter insurgency policy which targets leaders, organizers and supporters of legal and progressive organizations and subjects them to illegal arrests, enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings.
Randy Vegas, is an organizer of COURAGE for more than 10 years now. During his student days, Vegas became a staffer at the Quezonian, the official student publication of the Manuel L. Quezon University and was the National Secretary General of the College Editors’ Guild of the Philippines. Raul Camposano on the other hand, served the government as a sheriff. He was the former president of the Makati Association of Court Employees (MACE) from 2001-2003 and the Makati Sheriffs Association (MASA-SCOPHIL). He was instrumental in bringing together the employees in the judiciary through the founding of the Judiciary Employees Association (JUDEA). After being exposed to the issues and plight of the government employees, Raul decided to resign from office and devote his full time in the service of the employees by becoming a COURAGE National Staff.
Like other activists and organizers, Randy and Raul are individuals who have been committed in defending the rights and welfare of the oppressed but instead became victims of political harassment and persecution.
We therefore reiterate our call for the unconditional and immediate release of Randy and Raul and the junking of Oplan Bayanihan.