Environmental activist illegally arrested in Ilocos

“The Duterte regime is once again showing its contempt for human rights and its advocates. Yesterday, Shewin De Vera, a human rights and environmental advocate, was illegally accosted by elements of the police while on his way home. There is now a trend of attack against human rights defenders who have been consistent in opposing Duterte’s anti-people policies. This fascist regime is now on a roll – incessantly curtailing people’s rights through killings, arrests, aerial bombardment, harassment, among other forms. With the escalation of these attacks, human rights and its advocates are put more at risk,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay on the arrest of Sherwin De Vera.

 

 

 

 

De Vera is coordinator of Defend Ilocos, a regional environmental network in Ilocos affiliated with Kalikasan People’s Network, and a former human rights worker of Karapatan. He currently leads the campaign of Defend Ilocos and other people’s organizations in the region against large-scale mining projects detrimental to the people’s right to a safe and healthy environment. 

 

On December 12, 2017, at around 6:30pm, elements of Philippine National Police (PNP) led by a certain Supt. Medrano illegally arrested Sherwin De Vera, regional coordinator of Defend-Ilocos Network for the Environment and convener of Amianan Salakniban. De Vera was on his way home to Bantay, Ilocos Sur. De Vera was forced outside the bus he was riding, and shouted: “Ako si Sherwin De Vera, aktibista, regional coordinator ng DEFEND Ilocos, ina-aresto nang walang warrant of arrest.” 

 

The police suddenly said that there was a warrant and forcibly pulled him out of the bus. De Vera was handcuffed after alighting the bus and a warrant of arrest bearing a charge for rebellion was shown to him. As of this writing, De Vera is currently detained at the Abra Provincial Jail.  

 

Karapatan noted that there had already been previous cases of harassment against De Vera. On July 19, suspected military personnel inquired with the campus security department of the University of Northern Philippines in Ilocos Sur province on the recent visit of environmental activist Sherwin de Vera to the said university. The day before, De Vera noticed unnamed men tailing him in Vigan City.

 

“We really cannot expect much from a regime that openly expresses its scorn and disregard for human rights. With the martial law extension in Mindanao, and with representatives in Congress floating the idea of expanding the scope nationwide, this will undoubtedly enable more violations committed with increased brutality, brazenness and impunity. This is the mark, the legacy of the Duterte regime,” Palabay said.

 

“Karapatan demands the immediate release of Sherwin De Vera. The use of trumped-up charges to jail human rights defenders is among the Duterte regime’s cheap ploys to silence genuine opposition. As of November, 121 new political prisoners were jailed by Duterte and his State security forces, using perjured testimonies, defective warrants, and false charges. With this government isolating itself further from the people by relentlessly violating people’s rights, human rights defenders will continue with our resolve to promote and protect human rights – a mandate that the State, especially the Duterte administration, has thrown mindlessly in the trash bin,” Palabay concluded.