Free Rafael Baylosis, Marklen Maojo Maga and all political prisoners!

Guillermo Roque, companion of National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, was released on February 21, 2018, after having posted bail. Baylosis and Roque were illegally arrested by elements of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), PNP-Manila Police District, PNP Intelligence Group and CIDG operatives on January 31, 2018.

“The arrest of Roque and Baylosis are in violation of the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). It must also be noted that CIDG operatives planted evidence in the victims’ belongings to justify the illegal arrest. These are indicative of the government’s lack of credibility and sincerity in upholding both the agreements that it is a signatory to, and in following the laws that it has enacted,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Palabay also cited the recent arrest of Marklen Maojo Maga on February 22, 2018. Maga, an organizer of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) and son-in-law of Rafael Baylosis, was abducted by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG)-National Capital Region, Philippine National Police-Intelligence Group and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) near his home in San Mateo, Rizal.

According to police reports, Maga was arrested based on charges of murder for alleged incidents in Agusan del Sur and illegal possession of firearms and explosives. Maga told the police that he has never been to Agusan del Sur and he vehemently denied having said firearms and explosives, which he asserts are planted evidence against him. He is currently detained at the CIDG-NCR office at Camp Crame, Quezon City.

The Karapatan deputy secretary general linked the series of arrests to the proscription petition of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) as a terrorist organization to the intensification of crackdown on organizations suspected as “legal fronts”. The petition was filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on February 21, 2018, through Senior State Prosecutor Peter Ong.

“Even without the proscription petition, the government, through the DOJ and its various agencies, have already preoccupied themselves in filing trumped-up charges against members and leaders of progressive organizations. Without a doubt, this petition is part of the Duterte regime’s design to threaten and intimidate organizations and individuals into silence and submission. Deliberately violating people’s rights to freedom of association and expression, Duterte is rapidly moving towards a dictatorial rule,” Palabay explained.

Karapatan noted that “the proscription petition is also meant to target legal organizations which have, for years, spearheaded various people’s campaigns. Consistent with the government’s record of rights violations, this intensified crackdown will be done arbitrarily, premeditated and supported by their perversion and outright neglect of laws and human rights.”

“As we welcome the release of Roque, we reiterate the call for the release of Baylosis, Maga, and all political prisoners. As the Duterte regime inches further towards full-blown fascism and dictatorship, platforms for redress, protest and criticisms have become severely constricted. Tyranny,a fter all, means keeping the voice of resistance silenced. The Duterte regime is now using its full machinery, not just its state security forces, but all agencies in its arsenal to gag dissent and genuine opposition,” ended Palabay.