Abduction, illegal arrest and detention and trumped-up charges against trade union organizer Marklen Maojo Maga


Abduction, illegal arrest and detention and trumped-up charges against trade union organizer Marklen Maojo Maga

February 23, 2018

Dear friends,

There is a need to sound the alarm on the frequency and arbitrariness of illegal arrests and detention perpetrated by State security forces in light of the escalating crackdown on activists and trade union and human rights defenders. 

Fascist policies such as the Duterte regime’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, the creation of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) on October 11, 2017, and the President’s recent threats of using draconian measures such as the anti-terror law to arrest leaders and members of legal organizations have contributed to an environment that puts the lives and security of human rights defenders, activists, and the Filipino people in general at greater risk. The legal system is increasingly used to jail members and leaders of local organizations on the basis of trumped-up charges. The spate of arrests intensified after Duterte’s pronouncements, with more violations on people’s civil and political rights blatantly perpetrated by the police and the military.
In this light, join us in calling for the immediate release of all those who have been arrested and charged with trumped-up cases. Let us amplify the call to resist this worsening curtailment and disregard for people’s rights, and an end to fascist policies peddled by the Duterte regime. These arrests are a chilling manifestation of State fascism and how desperate the government has become in silencing the varied voices of criticism and dissent.

Furthermore, let us unite to defeat and resist Duterte’s rising tyranny and fascism. We call on friends, networks, and all organizations to release statements and mobilize to collectively show that the people will not tolerate such blatant violations of people’s rights.

On February 22, 2018, between 8:44am and 8:51am, at least eight plainclothes men who introduced themselves as police operatives approached 39-year-old Marklen Maojo Maga while he was playing basketball with neighbors at Colorado Street, Greenland New Townhomes in San Mateo, Rizal. The men were aboard a white Hi-Ace van, with plate number VH 1410, a silver Toyota Innova, and a single motorcycle. He was handcuffed and told to go with the said operatives. He was not told that he was being arrested nor was he apprised of his rights. 

The men abducted Maga and took him into the white van where he was immediately blindfolded. 

His wife only learned of his abduction when teachers of their son’s school nearby contacted her at around 12noon. The school authorities were alerted by one of the eyewitnesses. There were many eyewitnesses in the incident, including his basketball playmates and bystanders, but they said that they were threatened by the police from immediately notifying his wife. 

Maga was illegally arrested, without any standing warrant against him. At the time of his abduction, he was not informed of why they were taking him or what charges were being leveled against him. 

A quick check into the plate number of the white Hi-Ace van revealed that it is registered to a different vehicle. The subdivision’s logbook also recorded that a certain Ken Estocado Flores was the driver of the white Hi-Ace. He introduced himself as a policeman at the guardhouse and presented a voter’s ID for identification. 

According to Maga’s initial account, they drove around for a while, then they finally brought him to Camp Crame in Quezon City just before lunch. He was interrogated, without the presence of his lawyer, for several hours. During his interrogation, he was able to surmise from insinuations by the police that he is being implicated in an alleged murder incident in Agusan del Sur. He vehemently denied their accusations. 

After some time, one of the police officers presented to him a photograph of a half-cocked .45 calibre with seven live ammunitions. The police told him that the gun was his. He again denied owning the gun and refused to sign anything that the police presented to him. At the time of his abduction, Maga only had in his possession a basketball, a backpack with an airpump for his bike and his bicycle. All were confiscated by the police. 

His interrogation ended at around 1:00 in the afternoon and he was transferred to the CIDG-NCR holding cell inside Camp Crame. He was denied access to his lawyers or his family. He was only finally able to contact his family at around 5:00pm. His lawyers and a quick reaction team by the Kilusang Mayo Uno and Anakbayan were immediately dispatched to Camp Crame to ensure his safety and to take his initial statement. Maga’s lawyers were not presented with any charge sheet or warrant against him. 

On February 23, 2018, at around 1:00pm, Maga was presented by the NCR-CIDG to the media allegedly as an “Execom” member of the National Youth and Students Bureau, National Organizing Division (NOD) of the CPP-NPA. He was brought to the DOJ for inquest proceedings immediately after. His lawyer was not informed and was not present during the inquest proceedings, where trumped up charges of illegal possession of firearms were reportedly filed against him. According to police reports, elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group – National Capital Region, Internal Security Division and Intelligence Group of the Philippine National Police, and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines conducted the said operations against Maga. 

Maga is a trade union organizer of the Kilusang Mayo Uno in the workers’ unions in port areas, and in factory belts in Valenzuela and Central Luzon. He was a former member of the League of Filipino Students at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines and a founding National Council member of youth group Anakbayan. His arrest comes less than a month after the illegal arrest of his father-in-law, NDFP Consultant Rafael Baylosis. Family, friends and fellow youth and labor activists have every reason to believe that this is part of the Duterte administration’s moves to launch a crackdown on activists and members of the opposition.

Recommended actions:

Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:
1. The immediate investigation of the separate incidents to be conducted by an independent body;
2. The immediate release of all political prisoners illegally arrested by State security forces on the basis of trumped-up charges;
3. An end to the targetting, harassment, and intimidation of unionists, labor rights defenders, development workers, human rights defenders, and members and leaders of progressive organizations;
4. The immediate prosecution of all elements of State security forces involved in the illegal arrest and detention of the victims;
5. The immediate abolition of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), a body created by the PNP and the AFP, which further legitimizes and systematizes the political persecution and illegal arrest and detention of rights defenders and development workers working alongside marginalized sectors;
6. An end to the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan which encourages State security forces to threaten, harass, arbitrarily and illegally arrest development workers tagged as ‘enemies of the State’;
7. The Philippine Government to continue the peace talks and build towards the advancement of a Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER), which includes the issue of free land distribution to farmers and farm workers;
8. The Philippine Government to pursue its commitments under the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which includes the right to freedom of thought and expression, freedom of conscience, political beliefs and practices and the right not to be punished or held accountable for the exercise of these rights, and the right to free speech, press, association and assembly; and
9. The Philippine Government to adhere and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory.

You may send your communications to:

H.E. Rodrigo Duterte
President of the Republic
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 or send message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/

Hon. Jesus Dureza
Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
7th Floor Agustin Building I
Emerald Avenue
Pasig City 1605
Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
Email: stqd.papp@opapp.gov.ph, feedback@opapp.net 

Ret. Maj. Gen. Delfin Lorenzana
Secretary, Department of National Defense
Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
E. de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
Voice:+63(2) 911-6193 / 911-0488 / 982-5600
Fax:+63(2) 982-5600
Email: info@dnd.gov.ph, webmaster@dnd.gov.ph 

Hon. Vitaliano Aguirre
Secretary, Department of Justice
Padre Faura St., Manila
Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
Trunkline: 523-84-81 loc.214
Fax: (+632) 521-1614
Email: communications@doj.gov.ph 

Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon
Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
SAAC Bldg., UP Complex, Commonwealth Avenue
Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
Fax: (+632) 929 0102
Email: chairgascon.chr@gmail.com 

Please send us a copy of your email/mail/fax to the above-named government officials, to our address below:
URGENT ACTION Prepared by:
#63 Narra St., Project 3, Quezon City
Tel.: 421-0986
Email: kilusangmayouno@gmail.com
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

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