KABATAAN Partylist 3rd nominee harassed in Catbalogan, Samar, Philippines

On April 16, 2010, Atty. Katrina Castillo’s mother received an envelope addressed to her daughter with a note that says, “To:  Atty. Katrina “Kat-kat” Castillo, second nominee (sic) Kabataan Partylist” from a certain Ronaldo I. Picardal of  Brgy. Tizon, Tarangnan, Samar.  

The envelope contained a black ribbon and a printed note that says:

“It seems that you are not truthful and serious in serving the public. We found out that you continue your alliance with the enemies of democracy, progress and peace - the CPP-NPA-NDF and its partylists.  Your alliance with them is an admission that you are one of them who adhere to the nonsense communism. WITH THIS LETTER IS A BLACK RIBBON THAT WILL REMIND YOU THAT YOUR LIFE, AS WELL AS YOUR FAMILY, IS ONLY A PRIVILEGE. IF DEATH BECOMES YOU, MAY YOU REST IN PEACE.  For the Filipino people, country, and democracy.”

It can be remembered that the harassment of Atty. Castillo began when she became a lawyer in 2007 and served as the concurrent secretary general and legal counsel of KATUNGOD Sinirangang Bisayas.  She was informed by her clients (political detainees who are mostly farmers illegally arrested and detained for allegedly being part of the underground movement) that military intelligence agents visited them in prison to solicit information about her.  These intelligence agents also tried to intimidate her by making their presence felt during hearings of Atty. Castillo’s cases.

When they failed to intimidate her, they constantly harass her through the 8th Infantry Division paid radio program, “Dalan han kamatuuran, dalan han kauswagan” which literally means “the way to the truth, the way to progress” in DYMS radio in Catbalogan City and “Kuya Aron” in DYDW in Tacloban City.  She is accused of being the National Democratic Front of the Philippines’ (NDFP) legal counsel.  This type of red-baiting alarmed her since two officers and another legal counsel of KATUNGOD were also subjected to this kind of harassment and later fell victim to extrajudicial killings.  They were Atty. Felidito Dacut (legal counsel) killed on March 14,  2005; Rev. Edison Lapus (chairman ) killed on May 13, 2005; and Prof. Jose Maria Cui (secretary general) killed on January 19, 2007.

When she became a nominee of KABATAAN Partylist, the harassment intensified.  She found out through friends that the military tried to obtain her records at the University of the Philippines-Tacloban.  Friends were approached by the military for the purpose of monitoring her whereabouts.

ln the last week of January 2010, Atty. Katkat Castillo went to see the regional director of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Region 8 and on February 17, she again met the regional director.  The latter informed her that a week after her visit to the COMELEC, operatives of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) came and asked question about her.  The man even left his contact number with the COMELEC director.

On March 8, five (5) suspicious-looking men came to the apartment complex where Atty. Castillo temporarily resided.  They inquired if there was any vacancy.  When the landlady said that the vacancy was for females only, they were very insistent on renting the place but the landlady declined.  On the following day, suspicious-looking men were again trying to gain access to the compound.  They talked to a boy who later told the landlady that they claimed to be soldiers and they were there to arrest one of the occupants.