Karapatan denounces intensifying military harassment

THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE of human rights organizations in the Philippines, KARAPATAN, denounced the intensifying military offensive against human rights defenders in Southern Mindanao and other parts of the country.

KARAPATAN cited the life-threatening accusations made by BGen. Eduardo Del Rosario and Datu Ruben Labawan last September 21 in a press conference held in Davao City against Kelly Delgado, Secretary General of KARAPATAN in Southern Mindanao Region (SMR).

The press conference happened three days after KARAPATAN received classified information from a reliable source from within the military that a Mission Order (MO) has been issued for the “physical elimination” of Kelly by the Eastern Mindanao Command – home to the 10th and 4th Infantry Divisions of the Philippine Army.

Gen. Del Rosario accused Kelly Delgado of purportedly masterminding a plot to liquidate the Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, Lt. Col. Randolf Cabangbang, allegedly to avenge the abduction and death of Rebelyn Pitao, the daughter of Leoncio Pitao, a known New People's Army (NPA) commander.

Delgado also received death threats in 2008 after he denounced on radio the killing of peasant leader Celso Fojas. Kelly's harassment was already brought to the attention of the two United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs: on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression; and on the situation of human rights defenders.  On June 20, 2008, the said UN Rapporteurs wrote a joint letter addressed to the Philippine authorities urging them to investigate the case of Kelly and appealed to make necessary measures to ensure his safety, his family and other KARAPATAN staff from the threat.

Karapatan warns of very dangerous pattern in the case Delgado. "It is very much the same situation during the Arroyo administration in which the military publicly vilified leaders of human rights and people's organizations to lay the basis for liquidation. That pattern is a blue print of Oplan Bantay Laya that was extended by no less than President Aquino on August 16 during the launching of the so-called AFP human rights handbook," KARAPATAN acting secretary general Jigs Clamor said.

Other human rights defenders and leaders who have recently received death threats are Fred Cana, Karapatan Secretary-General in Negros, Rudy Sambajon, Makabayan secretary-general in Bataan, and Jarice Vida, Bayan Muna coordinator in Bicol.  Trumped-up charges have also been filed against them by the military and state prosecutors.

The threat against the life of activists unmasks the so-called pro human rights AFP as nothing but a cheap psy-war gimmick of the military and of the Aquino regime.###