Arrests follow Duterte’s malicious terror-tagging – Karapatan

“The king of trash talk continues his barrage of threats one day, and backtracks to call for the resumption of the peace talks on another day. Meanwhile, the reality on the ground remains unchanged. Four individuals were illegally arrested in less than two weeks, signalling that the Duterte regime’s fascist policies, foremost his counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, are still very much in effect,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

On March 24, 2018, Adelaida Macusang, 59, an active member of the Montevista Farmers Association, was taken by elements of the 25th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and brought to the said unit’s headquarters in Monkayo, Compostela Valley. Macusang’s relatives reported that officers of the 25th IBPA even fired shots, illegally searched and planted a bomb at their residence in Brgy. Camansi, Montevista, Compostela Valley. The peasant leader is now detained at the Montevista PNP station and is facing trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives.

On March 25, 2018, farmer Dodi Calicdan was also illegally arrested at his house in Sitio Lukban, Brgy. Dibuluan, San Mariano, Isabela by elements of the Alpha Coy, 86th IBPA. Calicdan was brought to the said unit’s headquarters in Jones, Isabela and was charged with fabricated charges of illegal possession of firearms, after a .38 calibre pistol and a M16 rifle was allegedly “found” in his possession.

An urban poor organizer was also arrested at her residence in Mabalacat City, Pampanga last March 29, 2018. Ruby Lacadman was apprehended by elements of the police and the military by virtue of a warrant of arrest for murder for “Ruby Palabrica y Quiatson” issued on October 12, 2017. She was brought to the Mabalacat police station before being transferred to the Negros Occidental Provincial Jail in Cadiz City. Lacadman is among the activists presumably included in the Justice Department’s proscription petition which contained a list of more than 600 names.

Most recently, Mary Ann Mariano, along with her two children – 3 months and 7 years old, respectively – were illegally accosted on April 4, 2018 by elements of the 73rd IBPA and PNP in Brgy. Poblacion, Polomolok, South Cotabato. According to witnesses, no warrant of arrest was presented when Mariano was taken by the authorities. Mariano was accused of being a member of the New People’s Army. The victim and her children remain under the custody of the 73rd IBPA; Mariano was also declared as a “surrenderee.”

“What is evident is the government’s continuing legal offensive against activists and residents of peasant communities deemed as “NPA supporters”. Trumped-up charges are being used to intimidate individuals and activists into submission and silence. Apart from normalizing military presence through martial law in Mindanao and the militarization of communities in other regions, the government is also well on the path of normalizing the criminalization of individuals by sweeping them all under the banner of “terrorist”, “communist”, or what have you. This is State terrorism disguised in legal documents and the brazen co-optation of our judicial system to persecute individuals maliciously tagged by the government as its enemies,” emphasized Palabay. 

“We demand the immediate release of Macusang, Mariano, Lacadman, Calicdan, and all political prisoners. What is most important for people on the ground most adversely affected by this regime’s policies is consistency – consistency not in backpedaling, and definitely not consistency in being inconsistent. The people are being fed with trash talk, a play on words and confusing verbal pronouncements, while the rights situation on the ground is on a downward spiral. As Duterte starts speaking about resuming the peace talks again, we remind him that lasting peace is based on justice, and justice necessitates accountability and concrete, consistent commitment and action,” concluded Palabay.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580