Groups demanded for the immediate release of University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu alumna Myles Albasin and her companions. Albasin and five others were reportedly “captured” during an “encounter” by elements of the 62nd Infantry Batallion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) last March 3, 2018.

No Encounter

The military accused and tagged Albasin and her five companions as members of the New Peoples Army (NPA). They were “arrested” at the house of a certain JC Cadiente in Sitio Talingting, Brgy. Luyang, Mabinay.

However, contrary to military claims, residents of Sitio Talingting revealed that there was no encounter between the AFP and NPA. According to reports received by Aninaw Productions, a resident who requested anonymity said that they heard only three gunshots and that there were no wounded or dead bodies.

The resident also shared that military operations hound their area. According to the resident’s testimony, Cadiente was harassed and “drowned” by military elements for “allegedly housing rebels.”

Albasin and five others are detained in a military camp in Tanjay, Negros Oriental.

“We challenge the authorities and the media to conduct further investigation on what really happened on the ground and to address the harassment done to the residents of the area,” exclaimed Anakbayan Cebu’s Joisa Cesista.

A Selfless Scholar of the People

Myles Albasin graduated in 2017 with a BA Mass Communication degree from UP Cebu.

She served as secretary general of Nagkahiusang Kusog sa Estudyante (NKE), a political student alliance in UP Cebu, that actively campaigned against anti-student and anti-people policies such as tuition and other school fees increases, pork barrel and corruption, oil price hike, militarization of Lumad communities, and extra-judicial killings, among others. Albasin also became Anakbayan UP Cebu’s chairperson for two years.

According to a statement released by Anakbayan UP Cebu, Albasin did not let her studies interfere with her learning. “She did not limit her education inside the four walls of the classroom. She actively joined discussions and study groups which educated her on the political situation and problems faced by the country. Her heart has always been for the exploited and oppressed masses,” the statement read.

Albasin initially planned to pursue a degree in Law after she graduated. But according to Anakbayan UP Cebu, Albasin was “fearless” in her “decision to integrate with the basic masses. Together with other youth and student leaders, she regularly integrated herself with the masses – farmers, fisherfolks, workers, urban poor, jeepney drivers, Lumads of Mindanao, and other exploited and oppressed sectors of society.”

Dugang Kadasig

Students, teachers, lawyers and human rights advocates, and friends of Myles Albasin, have been unwavering in their testimonies in support of the campaign to free her and her companions.

Former UP Cebu Student Council Vice Chairperson Kristian Jacob Lora touted Myles as “an epitome of the Filipino youth whom Jose Rizal referred to in his poem and in his novel, El Filibusterismo.” Lora added, as if speaking directly to Albasin: “You got out of your comfort zone to live with the masses, the marginalized, the oppressed… a thing which WE, in the MIDDLE-CLASS, FIND IT HARD TO DO. So, we salute you, we look up to you, and we are very much PROUD OF YOU for your SELFLESSNESS!”

UP Diliman Prof. Sarah Raymundo painted a lighter version of Albasin, while at the same time lauding her militancy and progressive politics: “you were the unassuming, gentle type yet a slave to uncontrollable laughter when rude but truthful jokes buzz around… The speeches you delivered in at least two occasions at Sitio Malungon were powerful. So powerful, you cease to be yourself as you transform into a beast.”

UP Cebu Prof. Phoebe Zoe Maria Sanchez stressed that “there was no encounter when they were captured, and they (military and police) should not touch anyone of them or harm them!” Sanchez also called the AFP as “the official station for public lies and deception” as it continues to spread “fake news” about Albasin and her companions.

Photo from: Lakbayani Exhibit