Stop terror-tagging of activists, political dissenters - Karapatan

Karapatan welcomed the order of Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar to drop the names of former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, UN Special Rapporteur Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and lawyer Jose Molintas in the proscription petition filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in February 2018. The rights group further called for the withdrawal of the entire proscription petition.

“This initial gain is partial, as hundreds more are still implicated in the petition. We again emphasize that the motive behind this petition is to intimidate and harass known government critics who have courageously exposed rights violations perpetrated by the Duterte regime. The list is defective and unsubstantiated, derived from information fed by the AFP and the PNP to malign activists and defenders,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, adding that in a budget hearing on August 6, no less than the DOJ Secretary admitted that they did not personally verify the alleged involvement of the the more than 600 names included in the proscription petition.

Palabay also noted that many in the list, including Satur Ocampo, are still hounded by trumped-up cases, even as he was considered a non-party in the proscription case. “This regime is relentless and it attacks its critics at all fronts, carefully and deviously wielding the law to mask repression,” she added.

“This is orchestrated and systematic, part of the government’s crackdown on activists and critics. With new and more aggressive, repressive legislations up its sleeve such as the amendments to the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, the Duterte regime’s underhanded maneuver will only worsen,” Palabay said.

Amendments to the HSA, or the Anti-Terror Law, include broad definitions of terrorism that threaten the rights of individuals to exercise their freedom of expression, assembly, association, and to seek redress of grievances, among others. “It contains very dangerous provisions such as an individual being considered a “terrorist” only on mere suspicion, and thus the permission given to State forces to monitor, survey, and even tap and intercept their communications,” she added.

“The people behind amendments to the HSA are also the same devils behind the proscription petition. These moves, on top of other repressive policies, complement each other to magnify the repression against individuals and communities tagged as “enemies of the State,” she added. 

“We thus call for the entire petition to be withdrawn, and for the Duterte regime to put an end to the tagging of rights defenders and government critics as “terrorists”. We likewise demand for the Duterte government to repeal the anti-terror law and other similar measures that deliberately infringe on people’s civil and political rights,” concluded Palabay.

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580