AFP files trumped-up criminal case vs. Karapatan-SMR Sec.Gen, leaders of people’s orgs

APPEAL FOR ACTION 
AFP files trumped-up criminal case vs. 
Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Sec Gen and 
leaders of people’s organizations  
 
On several occasions, Karapatan–Southern Mindanao Secretary General Honey May Suazo has experienced threats, harassment, or intimidation, and surveillance in the course of her work as a human rights worker in the region. 
 
 
UA Date : July 15, 2015 
UA Case : Threat, harassment, and intimidation, including the filing of
  harassment suits; Surveillance; Violation of the right to
  freedom of association

Victim : Honey May (Hanimay) Suazo
Secretary General, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region
Place of incident : Davao City
Date of incident : February 7, 2015; February 25, 2015; June 19, 2015; 
  June 21, 2015

Alleged perpetrator/s : Lt. Gen. Aurelio Bartolome Baladad, Commanding General,
  Eastern Mindanao Command
Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año, Commanding General, 10th Infantry Division
Maj. Jake Obligado, Commander, 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion, 10th ID
Three unnamed men and one unnamed woman, suspectedbelieved to be  military agents of the Eastern Mindanao Command and the 10th ID
Members of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 

ACCOUNT OF THE INCIDENT:
 
On several occasions, Karapatan–Southern Mindanao Secretary General Honey May Suazo has experienced threats, harassment, or intimidation, and surveillance in the course of her work as a human rights worker in the region. 

On July 11, 2015, Honey Mae Suazo learned that trumped up criminal charges were filed against her and 15 other leaders of people’s organizations for supporting the more than a hundred Ata Monobos evacuees who were forced to leave their communities in Talaingod, Davao del Norte due to military presence and combat operations. 

A complaint was filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) under docket number XI-02-INV-15-E-1848 filed before the City Prosecutor’s Office, with charges of violation of Republic Act (RA) 267 or Kidnapping, Serious Illegal Detention and RA 9208 or the Anti-trafficking in persons Act of 2003 as amended by RA 10364 or the Expanded Anti-trafficking of Persons Act of 2012. The complaints were filed on May 12, 2015.
Aside from Suazo, included in the complaint are: Rev. Jurie Jaime (Promotion of Church People’s Response-SMR); Sheena Duazo (Bayan SMR); Ryan Lariba (Bayan Socsksargen); Tony Salubre (Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-SMR); Mary Ann Sapar  (Gabriela Women’s Party-SMR); Jaja Necosia (RCPA Productions-Broadcasting); Kerlan Fanagel, Sr., (Secretary general of the Lumad group Pasaka); Sr. Stella Matutina (Panalipdan-Mindanao); Sr. Restita Miles (Rural Missionaries of the Philippines); Isidro Indao, (Spokesperson of Pasaka); Kharlo Manano (national Secretary General of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns and spokesperson of the Save Our Schools network); Rius Valle (Children’s Rehabilitation Center-SMR); Jimboy Marciano (SAMA-AKO-KMU); Pedro Arnado (Chairperson of Kilusang Magbubkid ng Pilipinas-SMR); and, many other John/Jane Does.

Suazo led numerous fact-finding and search missions particularly in highly militarized communities in Talaingod, Davao del Norte and Loreto, Agusan del Sur. She has also openly pointed to the culpability of military troops in human rights abuses in the Southern Mindanao region. 

Chronology of Events

October 17, 2014: Suazo narrowly escaped from a man tracking her. Suazo was aboard a taxi with Anakbayan organizer Kae Solis from Bangoy St. to Nova Tierra village in Davao City.

At the Nova Tierra Village, Suazo got off the cab first and went inside her house. Solis had to wait for the change from the driver. When she got off the cab, a tall man pushed her. Solis tried to run but the man pulled her hair from the back as he shouted “Asa ka muadto?! Asa ka? (Where are you going?! Where?).” The perpetrator, who kept pulling Solis’ hair, pushed her to a glass wall of a drug store while asking the same questions. Finally, the man asked, Asa imong mga kauban lagi? Asa si Hanimay Suazo? [Where is your companion? Where is Hanimay Suazo?] Solis was able to push the perpetrator, ran across the highway, and rode a jeep. Solis later relayed to Suazo that a man was after her.  

February 7, 2015: At around 6:30 p.m., Suazo rode a tricycle with Mary Ann Sapar (Gabriela Women’s Party-SMR), Glades Maglungsod (Bayan-SMR), Arlene Maglunsod and former representative of Anakpawis Partylist Joel Maglungsod (now with Kilusang Mayo Uno-SMR). All five came from a meeting on the situation of the evacuees from Talaingod, Davao del Norte and the spate of human rights violations of the 10th ID.  A few minutes before Crossing Buhangin, Suazo and Sapar noticed a man onboard a motorcycle tailing their tricycle. The man had dark complexion, an army-cut hair wearing a brown jacket over a yellow t-shirt. 

As soon as their tricycle reached Crossing Buhangin, Suazo and her companions got off the tricycle. The Maglungsod family quickly flagged down and rode a taxi, while Suazo and Sapar waited for them to ride off. The two were surprised to see the man on the motorcycle just a meter away from them. He was looking at Suazo directly; he seemed to be holding something in the pocket of his jacket. Both walked quickly to the opposite direction. The man onboard the motorcycle followed them. They ran and crossed the street. Suazo quickly rode a jeepney, while Sapar walked to her home. Both saw the man speeding off to another direction. 

February 25, 2015: At 4 p.m., Suazo attended a dialogue with members of the EastMinCom, the 10th ID, 4th Infantry Division and several attached battalions. The dialogue was facilitated by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte as Chairperson of Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC) in Region XI. The meeting was held at the Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City. 

Maj. Jake Obligado of the 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion- 10th ID attended the dialogue. Obligado approached Suazo and shook hands with her. Suazo said, “Sir, we have finally met.” Obligado asked, “Hanimay, where is Juland (Hanimay’s husband)?”
 
Juland is Spokesperson and researcher of Panalipdan-SMR, an environmental group. He is currently working on a research project in Zamboanga. Juland was also a subject of several incidents of threats and harassment, including a harassment suit for supposedly organizing a protest action and barricade of neglected typhoon Pablo survivors at the regional office of the Department of Social Work and Development. 

Suazo told Obligado “I thought you knew where he is. He is in Zamboanga, conducting research on the mining companies there. Haven’t you seen him?” Obligado then said “Can I just get your number?” Suazo declined to give her number as Obligado insisted. Suazo told him, “Here is my lawyer, Atty. Fatima Adin. Talk to my lawyer and ask her if I can give my number.” Adin told Obligado “No, you cannot have her number.” Suazo told Obligado, “Why do you ask for my number, when you viciously attack and vilify us on television and radio, calling us communists?” Obligado then insisted to have his picture taken with Suazo, to which she again declined. Obligado told Suazo “You have always been carrying the red flag.” Obligado has consistently and repeatedly tagged Karapatan and Suazo as communist and communist front during his radio and TV interviews. 

April 27, 2015: Three armed men believed to be elements of the 69th Infantry Battalion under the 10th ID attempted to forcibly enter the Karapatan-SMR in Davao City. Karapatan staff members, leaders of peasant organizations, and victims of human rights violations from Paquibato, Davao City and Bukidnon were in the office at the time. Aida Seisa, secretary general of the Paquibato District Peasants Alliance (PADIPA) and Vice-Chairperson for Internal Affairs, SABOKAHAN Lumad Women Regional Confederation was among them. Seisa recently survived an attempted killing incident by elements of the 69th IB-PA, targeting her and her family. The incident resulted in the massacre of three peasants in Paquibato.

Staff members of the Karapatan-SMR believe that three of their neighbors who are residing beside the office are involved in the surveillance and threats against the Suazo and the staff. Prior to the attempted raid, the staff members noticed two men and a woman who would regularly come out of said house to smoke cigarettes or make calls/text but were always  alerted when people go in and out of the office. One of these three persons took pictures of visitors and staff going in the office. 

A gadget, which the staff members believe as a listening device, was also placed on the window facing Karapatan office. The staff members also noticed that every day several men pass by and look towards the office. The men would pass by more often when Suazo is in the office.

June 19, 2015:  Karapatan staff Leonora Ricafort called Suazo to dissuade her from coming to the office as they observed two to three men were on stake-out outside the office. 

June 21, 2015: At 9 p.m., as Suazo and two male victims of HRV were walking towards the office when they saw two motorcycles parked on a street corner near the office. Suazo found it unusual that the motorcycles were there as there was not enough space for parking. The three ran fast to reach the gate of Karapatan office. Suazo and her two companions continuously tapped the gate to get the attention of the staff members inside when a man came out from their neighbors’ house and walked towards the parked motorcycles. 

Because of the spate of harassment against her, Suazo has since been unable to go neither to the Karapatan-SMR office nor to her home. 

Recommended Action:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

1. The Armed Forces of the Philippines to stop the harassment, threat, intimidation, and surveillance against human rights defenders like Honey Mae Suazo and her colleagues.  
2. For the BS Aquino government to withdraw all the trumped-up criminal charges against Honey May Suazo and all the leaders of people’s organizations. 
3. The Philippine government to investigate the rights violations against Suazo et al as the Philippine government is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments. Thus, it is bound to observe, promote and protect all of these instruments’ provisions as mandated by the Philippine Constitution.
4. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
 
You may send your communications to:

1. H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic of the Philippines
Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines
Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
E-mail: op@president.gov.ph

2. Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
Email: osnd@philonline.com

3. Atty. Leila De Lima
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila, Philippines
Direct Line 521-1908 
Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.211/214
Fax: (+632) 523-9548
Email:  lmdelima@doj.gov.ph, lmdelima.doj@gmail.com, lmdelima.doj2@gmail.com

4. Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex 
Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, (+632) 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
E-mail: comsec@chr.gov.ph

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below.

URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
National Office
2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,
Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES
Voice/Fax: (+632) 435 4146
Email: urgentaction@karapatan.org; karapatan@karapatan.org
Website: www.karapatan.org