Karapatan reports harassment, Red-tagging against organization

Karapatan reported receiving text messages maligning and red-tagging the organization in the past week. The messages were sent to Karapatan’s secretary general and it’s public information number, both of which are available to the public as references for press releases and statements.

The numbers, 09556810452 and 09557396541, received messages accusing Karapatan of being a legal front of the New People’s Army, and of being “huwad na makatao” (fake humanitarians).

Last Friday, September 28, 2018, Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Rev. Felix C. Espra Jr., parish priest of Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur reported that the walls of his chapel were painted with the markings “IFI = NPA.” Another set of painted markings were found along the highway specifically at Brgy. Lacupayan, Tigbao, Zamboanga del Sur with the following texts: “UCCP = NPA,” “IFI = NPA,” and “Bishop Ablon = NPA”. IFI Bishop Antonio Ablon is the current chairperson of Karapatan Western Mindanao.

On Saturday, September 29, 2018, Karapatan also received reports that banners were being hanged at bridges in Balibago, Angeles, Pampanga with the following text: “Karapatan, terrorist protector”.

“Regrettably, this is not the first, nor will it be the last thread of harassment and threats that we expect to receive, especially under this regime. Even President Duterte himself mentioned Karapatan six times in his speeches, accusing our organization of the same thing. So, is it any surprise that this government’s minions are following suit, targeting us for our incessant work of exposing this regime’s crimes? These petty tactics make rights workers even more vulnerable to rights violations. We strongly condemn these continuing attacks against us and other human rights organizations and advocates,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan has filed a complaint regarding the series of red-tagging against the organization to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, UNSR on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceable Assembly and of Association, UNSR on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, and to the UN Assistant Secretary General on Human Rights.

The Karapatan official linked this escalating attacks to the alleged “Red October” plot concocted by the military and this paranoid regime. She reiterated that “while Karapatan has been the subject of many such threats and harassment, we continue to emphasize how these endanger our human rights workers more, and justifies attacks against us.”

She cited that under the Duterte regime, eight human rights workers of Karapatan have already been extrajudicially killed, the latest of which was Mariam Uy Acob, a paralegal of the Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance which is a member organization of Karapatan.

Palabay emphasized that this is a systematic attack against known critics and progressives who are insistent on demanding justice for the victims of this regime’s rights violations, and who are arduous in calling for an end to the continuing abuses against the Filipino people.

“Which institutions have the discretionary funds to use for these baseless accusations? Not only are the movers of this regime intent on spreading fake news on social media, but they are also hell-bent on discrediting people who expose the real situation on the ground. This is a systematic operation run by agencies and institutions which will benefit if the victims and people who help them are silenced,” she added.

“Our record of human rights work is available for public scrutiny. We are proud of the efforts and commitment of our human rights workers on the ground. Many of our colleagues have not only been harassed, but were extrajudicially killed. We have continued our work despite attacks from fascist regimes, and we will continue to tread on. Our affirmation will never come from the government, but from the victims and their relatives, the communities and the peoples whom we have had the honor to serve,” Palabay emphasized.

“We enjoin everyone to stand together and condemn such forms of harassment. Instead of fear, let us show these warmongers that they have furthered our resolve to fight this repressive system and make this regime accountable for all the abuses they have inflicted on the Filipino people. Makibaka, huwag matakot!” Palabay concluded.