Illegal arrest of sixteen indigenous and peasant activists in a week is sign of de facto martial law in PH - Karapatan

“In a week, Karapatan received reports on the illegal arrest and detention of at least sixteen indigenous and peasant activists in Sarangani, Nueva Ecija and Batangas. They are being painted as ‘enemies of the State,’ using the criminal justice system to fabricate charges, as reprisal for their staunch defense of their ancestral land and communities against mining corporations and big landlords. This is de facto martial law under the Duterte regime,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, upon receiving reports of the arrests.

According to initial reports of Bayan-Batangas, elements of the Philippine National Police illegally arrested peasant leaders Manolo delos Reyes, Senando Marco, Allan Dimaisip and Joseph Marasigan in Calatagan, Batangas this morning, October 6, 2017. The said peasant leaders were active in the campaign opposing the encroachment of Asturias Mining Corporation on their land and communities. Illegal searches were conducted in the peasants’ homes prior to their arrests. They were brought by the police to the military detachment of the Philippine Air Force 730th Combat Group.

On October 4 to 5, seven Lumad residents, including a volunteer teacher in an alternative school for indigenous children, of Sitio Salo, Brgy. Upper Suyan, Malapatan, Sarangani province were also arrested by the 73rd Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army (IBPA). Those arrested were Jake Lokina, Raul Masalon, Fil Masalon, Merila Lokina, Boy Masalon, Nestor Masalon, and Aubrey Masalon, volunteer teacher of Center for Lumad Advocacy, Networking and Services (CLANS). As of this writing, charges against the seven are still unknown.

Five residents of Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, one is a minor and three are members of the Kasibu Inter-Tribal Response for Ecological Development (KIRED) and Samahang Pangkarapatan ng Katutubong Magsasaka at Manggagawa (SAPAKKMMI), were illegally arrested and charged with trumped up cases of illegal possession of explosives and ammunition. Those arrested were: Marilyn Lango, barangay treasurer of Brgy. Camamasi and member of the SAPAKMMI Board of Directors; Vicente Ollagon, kagawad of Brgy. Bilet and member of KIRED; Ferdinand Pakiwon, also a member of KIRED; Jogiemar Wayas, church worker of Jesus is Our Shield Worldwide Ministry; and “Jose,” a minor.

The five were travelling on a vehicle when they were flagged down at a joint military and police checkpoint in Brgy. Mabuslo, Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. KIRED and SAPAKKMMI are local organizations known for their campaigns against destructive mining operations, including that of Oceana Gold, in Nueva Vizcaya. The five were accused of being members of the New People’s Army. They are currently detained at the Bambang Municipal Police Station.

“In a desperate attempt to silence human rights defenders and critics of big business and those in power, State security forces have always resorted to such illegal acts. These deplorable incidents are not fake news. These are real people who are experiencing real injustice from the Duterte regime. They should all be released immediately, along with all the 430 other political prisoners in the country, and the fabricated charges against them must be dropped,” Palabay concluded. 

Reference:  Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

 

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