GONE Manny Asuncion, in a picket line along EPZA, Rosario, Cavite recently. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

By: Dennis Abrina and Ire Joe V.C. Laurente

ROSARIO, Cavite: A leader of the militant Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) in Cavite province was shot dead on Sunday morning.

Manny Asuncion was gunned down in a purported raid on the Workers Assistance Center in Dasmariñas City in the province.

Asuncion, a well-known Bayan leader in Cavite, has led the group for more than two decades.

He was commonly seen at picket lines and his group’s rallies holding placards.

Anak Bayan, another left-leaning organization, condemned the killing of Asuncion, whom it said had contributed much to the advancement of people’s rights in Cavite.

According to workers group Pamantik-Timog Katagalugan, there is an ongoing crackdown on progressive leaders in Southern Tagalog.

In neighboring Laguna province, two labor leaders and a human-rights advocate were arrested also on Sunday morning.

Arrested were Steve Mendoza, executive vice president of workers group Olalia Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement), Mags Camoral, Bayan-Laguna spokesman and Nimfa Lanzanas, paralegal aide to political prisoners and who is working for rights watchdog Kapatid-Timog Katagalugan.

Camoral was reportedly arrested at the Defend Yulo Farmers (DYF) headquarters in Cabuyao and Mendoza at his residence in the town.

They were presented by personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Cabuyao with search warrants for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Witnesses said both the arresting units of the Cabuyao-PNP forcibly entered the DYF offices and the house of Mendoza in Barangay San Isidro and commanded those with them to lie down on their stomachs while the police searched the office of DYF and Mendoza’s house.

In nearby Rizal province, two members of urban poor organization Sikkad-Montalban were reportedly shot dead while the homes of two peasant-rights leaders were also raided.

In Nasugbu, Batangas, husband-and-wife Raymart Evangelista and Chai Lemita-Evangelista and their 10-year-old son Ariel Evangelista were taken into custody around 4 a.m. also on Sunday while the home of Lino Baez of Bayan-Batangas was also raided.

Ariel was reported to be missing.

Guns allegedly were planted by the raiders at Baez’s house.

Lino was not home when the raid was conducted.

Last March 4, Honda unionist Arnedo Laguinias and water-district union leader Ramir Corcoron were arrested in separate dawn raids also in Laguna.