Justice Dep’t., a factory mill of trumped up charges against activists, critics of Duterte regime

“The Duterte regime is poised to intensify its practice of filing trumped-up charges against leaders and members of progressive organizations as a means to intimidate and harass them. The current administration has imprisoned at least 145 more political prisoners in the country. This form of harassment and targetting of activists is done through the Department of Justice, which churns out lie after lie against those perceived by the Duterte government as its enemies,” said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor during a protest action in front of the Department of Justice on February 28, 2018 to call for an end to the filing of trumped-up charges against activists.
 
 
 
 
 
Karapatan has earlier sounded the alarm on activists, human rights defenders and members of progressive organizations being arrested by virtue of warrants issued by regional trial courts in the Caraga region. Among them is Marklen Maojo Maga, an organizer of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) who was arrested based on charges of murder for alleged incidents in Agusan del Norte and illegal possession of firearms and explosives. The victim, however, has never set foot in the Caraga region, as he also vehemently asserts that the evidence against him were planted. 

“This is a disturbing trend. Courts in the Caraga region have become a factory of warrants of arrests to justify trumped-up cases. This is indicative of the collusion of the DOJ, the police and the military to specifically target local leaders active in various campaigns. At this rate, mass leaders and members of progressive groups in different parts of the country could be arrested by virtue of warrants implicating them in alleged incidents in various provinces where they have never even been to! What a travesty of justice!” Clamor added, citing the arrest of Benito Quilloy and Rita Espinoza in Negros Occidental on October 19, 2017 and brothers Joshua and Randy Guyo in Bayugan City, Agusan del Sur on May 23, 2017 -- all through warrants issued by courts in Agusan del Sur. 

Karapatan also raised the proscription petition filed by the DOJ to qualify the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, noting that this will merely give the government a free pass to arrest those alleged by Duterte as legal fronts of the CPP. 

“There is really an intensified and concerted effort to repress legal progressive organizations. With Duterte’s counterinsurgency program in tow, the Inter Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), and now the proscription petition, this crackdown is starting to take shape -- revealing a chorus and collusion of government bodies and agencies. All this, of course, is carefully designed to be legitimized by courts to hide the fact that these charges are fabricated,” Clamor noted.  

“The Duterte regime is taking its legal offensive a notch higher, using everything in its arsenal to silence resistance. To the DOJ and state instruments, we remind you not to renege further on your obligations to the people and truly work for justice. This means prosecuting the true murderers and human rights violators littered within the government, foremost the military and its Commander-in-Chief, and other state security forces,” ended Clamor.