Karapatan slams recent attacks against human rights defenders and kin

Karapatan slams recent attacks against human rights defenders and kin, calls for independent UN investigation on rights abuses vs HRDs

 

A former human rights worker of Karapatan and her brother-in-law were illegally arrested, the son of a peasant leader was abducted, and human rights workers investigating rights abuses in Lopez, Quezon were surrounded by soldiers – all these were the most recent attacks against human rights defenders documented by Karapatan last week, from May 3 to 11, 2017.

Karapatan condemns these recent attacks against human rights defenders, as the climate of impunity worsens in the Philippines. While the Duterte administration has been busy promoting butcher generals to Cabinet posts, furthering the militarization of the civilian bureaucracy, human rights defenders and their families are experiencing graver forms of human rights violations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

On May 3, 2017, combined elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Region 4A, Philippine Air Force (PAF) and the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) illegally arrested Edwina Alog, former regional council member of Karapatan Southern Tagalog and currently a volunteer staff of Gabriela-Southern Tagalog. Alog was among the 72 leaders and members of progressive people’s organizations previously charged with trumped up cases; all the said charges were dismissed due to lack of evidence. Alog, who attended a relative’s wake in Batangas when she was arrested, is facing fabricated charges of murder, which she only knew of when the warrant of arrest on the said cases were shown to her a day after she was arrested. 

On the same day, her brother-in-law, Roderick Alog, was arrested during a raid of State security forces in their house in San Carlos, Pangasinan, while the government forces were supposedly looking for Edwina.

On May 8, at around 7pm, Rey Anton Olayvar, 21, son of peasant leader Adolfo Olayvar and student at the Trinidad Municipal College in Bohol, was abducted by six unnamed armed men allegedly from the 47th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and ISAFP onboard a black van. He was able to escape from his captors when they stopped the van for a short break, during which Olayvar was able to run and ask help from farmers nearby who brought him to the nearest police station in Talibon town.

Rey Anton’s father, Adolfo, is currently an officer of the Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon (HUMABOL-KMP) and staff of Farmers Development Center (FARDEC). Rey Anton’s mother, Regina, was also previously abducted by military agents on Marso 13, 2008. His uncle, Victor Olayvar, leader of Humabol and Bayan-Bohol chairperson, was a victim of extrajudicial killing during the Arroyo regime.

On May 10, about sixty-nine members of a fact finding mission in Lopez, Quezon led by Karapatan human rights workers were surrounded by soldiers of the AFP Southern Luzon Command, while investigating rights abuses of the military in Sitio Alat-alatin, Brgy. San Francisco in Lopez town. The soldiers insisted on taking pictures of residents in the community and brought with them farmer Ruel Segui, 41, who was later released.

“Such attacks remain unabated due to continuing counter-insurgency programs that bring unpeace to rural and urban communities. We demand the immediate release of Edwina and Roderick Alog and the halt to all forms of harassment against human rights defenders and our families,” Palabay said.

Karapatan also called on the Duterte administration to officially invite Mr. Michel Forst, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders, to conduct an independent investigation into the continuing attacks against HRDs. On April 16, 2017, Karapatan sent a letter of allegation to Forst on the thirty-three HRDs killed under the Duterte administration, on top of the 614 HRDs killed during the Arroyo and Aquino governments.

“Justice remains elusive for Filipino human rights defenders who have been killed, abducted, illegally arrested and detained, tortured and harassed due to systematic attacks by State security forces,” Palabay concluded. #

 

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