“Karapatan condemns the worsening spate of attacks against activists and rights defenders, perpetrated by the Duterte regime and its security forces. Just this week, nine activists were illegally arrested in separate incidents in Laguna and Nueva Ecija, while two others were also declared missing. The spike in attacks are a compounded result of the government’s relentless red-tagging in line with its fictitious destabilization plot, the military and police’s collaboration through the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), and the regime’s counterinsurgency program,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay cited the illegal arrest of peasant advocates Yolanda Diamsay, 46, Eulalia Ladesma, 44, Edzel Emocling, 23, and Rachel Galario, 20, by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), 7th IBPA, and Philippine National Police (PNP) in Nueva Ecija on October 13, 2018. As of this writing, Emocling has posted bail but Ladesma and Diamsay remain in the custody of the CIDG in Cabanatuan. The daughter of Ladesma recounted how her mother, along with Diamsay, were mauled and beaten. Ladesma was kicked several times while forcing her to admit to being “Ka Mariz” while Ortiz’s left eye was swollen and hand marks were visible in her neck due to strangulation.


Dr. Reginaldo Pamugas of the Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR) was repeatedly denied access to the victims, possibly due to the police’s efforts to conceal marks of torture evident in the women’s faces. Karapatan lawyer Maria Sol Taule was allowed to see Diamsay and Ladesma only yesterday, October 18, five days after their arrest.

Karapatan likewise condemned the military’s intimidation against Emocling and Galario, and their respective families. “The Armed Forces of the Philippines is an unconscionable monster to use the two women, one of whom have just given birth, for its vilification against legal democratic organizations. The AFP has a long history of torture, physical and psychological forms, and does not blink twice to use deceit and lies to achieve its ends, including using detainees who are at their most vulnerable . What the AFP cannot kill, they destroy their spirits. We are fearful for the well-being of Elaine and Rachel, and their families. The AFP should immediately stop their harassment and intimidation efforts against them,” Palabay stated.

Galario meanwhile was coerced by the military to present herself as a “rebel returnee,” as they were able to get custody of her baby and family.

Days later, on October 15, 2016, Adelberto Silva, 71, a peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), was arrested with labor union organizer Ireneo Atadero, 55, agriculturist and organic farmer Ediesel Legaspi, 60, GWP consultant Hedda Calderon, 63, and driver Julio Lusania, 53, in Sta. Cruz, Laguna by combined elements of the CIDG, 2nd Infantry Division – 1st IBPA, and the Intelligence Service of the AFP (ISAFP). Trumped-up criminal charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives were filed by the military and the police against the victims, after evidence were planted against the latter’s belongings.

A release order for Calderon, Atadero and Legaspi was issued by a Laguna prosecutor on October 17, but service of the said order is being inordinately delayed. “Ang bilis mang-aresto at mag-plant ng ebidensya nitong mga militar at pulis na ito, pero pagka-bagal-bagal naman pag may order na palayain ang mga iligal nilang inaresto,” Palabay said.

On October 18, Joey Torres, regional peasant organizer of Bayan Muna, and Anakpawis member Ceasar Carreon were reported to be missing. As of this writing, Karapatan is still trying to ascertain the details of their disappearance. However, Palabay noted that many of the victims belong to known progressive groups commonly red-tagged by the government and its supporters — Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis.

“How convenient for the government to declare a destabilization plot and frame itself as the victim of a grand scheme when on the ground, rights defenders and activists are those being hunted down, illegally arrested, and forcibly disappeared. We all know who the real victims of the so-called Red October plot are — the activists, progressives and rights defenders who continue to expose the real situation on the ground. By branding them as “destabilizers,” “rebels,” NPA,” they have become more vulnerable to rights violations, and abuses against them are seemingly justified,” Palabay added.

“We condemn these violations and call for an immediate end to these attacks. This regime is using schemes, on top of its counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan and its legal offensive team, the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), to criminalize activists on the basis of trumped-up criminal charges. No doubt all these are the regime’s mechanism to further its repression and silence progressives who dare speak truth to power,” Palabay ended.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Originally published on Karapatan.org on Fri, 19.10.2018 at 11:16


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