No peace under Duterte with arrests of activists, indigenous peasants

Karapatan condemned the recent spate of arbitrary arrests of two activists and two indigenous peasants by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“This spate of brutality by soldiers and the police towards innocent civilians is already the rule rather than the exception for this government. These violations of human rights are in direct contrast with President Duterte’s stance that he is allegedly for peace. How can there be peace when his soldiers and cops are primed to kill, torture, and arrest people with impunity? ” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

On June 2, 2018, trade union organizer Juan Alexander Reyes, 47, of the Sandigan ng Manggagawa sa Quezon City and Defend Job Philippines, was at Kapilian St., Brgy. San Antonio, Muñoz, Quezon City when he was abducted by suspected state agents onboard a white sports utility vehicle (SUV) with plate number ABB-9926. A bonnet was placed on his head, and upon arrival at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group-NCR office, he was interrogated by police and military agents. It was only then when he was shown a warrant of arrest for arson and illegal possession of firearms and explosives, charges which Reyes vehemently denied.

On March 31, Gabriela Women’s Party volunteer and former Karapatan human rights worker Nerita de Castro was arrested by combined elements of CIDG Davao and Caraga and the 402nd Infantry Brigade at Emenville Subdivision, Brgy. Ambago, Butuan City. The arrest was based on a trumped-up murder charge filed at the Regional Trial Court 11, Judicial Branch 28, of Lianga, Surigao del Sur. De Castro was denied her right to call her family and lawyer and inform them of her arrest and her condition. She was accused of being a high-ranking member of the New People’s Army and of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Two Dumagat peasants - Rockey Torres, 27, and Dandoy Avillaneda, 44 - were illegally arrested and tortured by soldiers from the 80th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army last May 14, 2018, while the two were on their way to a sari-sari store in Sitio Libutan, Brgy. Umiray, General Nakar, Quezon Province. Torres and Avillaneda were beaten and kicked by soldiers, forcing them to admit that they were NPA members. Torres was also forced to fire a shotgun. Their hands and legs were tied, and both were blindfolded and tied to the body of a dead soldier, according to a witness. The peasants are being detained on fabricated charges of murder and illegal possession of firearms and explosives.  

“Instead of releasing political prisoners, who have suffered injustice through trumped-up charges and torture, the Duterte regime continues to rack up their numbers,” Palabay said, citing Karapatan’s figures as of March 2018 at 503 political prisoners.

“There can be no just and lasting peace with a murderer at the helm of government, who basks in killing, maiming and illegally arresting people through his counterinsurgency program and drug war. Duterte should be made accountable by the Filipino people, who are disgusted with his anti-people schemes,” Palabay concluded.  

For reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 09173162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 09189790580