KARAPATAN reiterates call for greater vigilance to protect the people’s rights; condemns continuing human rights violations

The human rights alliance Karapatan today raised the alarm on the continuing assault to the people’s rights and reiterates its call to the public for greater vigilance on the alarming continuing killings, abductions, militarization of both urban and rural communities, harassments and surveillance of civilians and other human rights violations reminiscent of the martial law period.

Jun Cruz Reyes at pressconIn a press conference today, Karapatan Chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez joined the UP organizations in denouncing the series of surveillance operations committed on artist, writer and UP professor Jun Cruz Reyes, by men believed to be military intelligence agents.

Reyes, a writer and professor at the University of the Philippines reported that on September 13, 2009, a man approached him at an eatery and photographed him without his permission. He also divulged that on the same day and on September 10, men who looked like soldiers went to and observed his house in Bulacan. Reyes also disclosed that on November 15, 2007, men in army fatigues with their faces covered attempted to bribe his neighbor to point out his whereabouts.  He also said that in August of 2007, two men who looked like soldiers attempted to enter his house but the dogs’ barking gave their presence away so the men ran when they saw that neighbours saw what they tried to do.  After this incident, his dog was poisoned. Reyes also revealed that in 2006, he was warned by his friend that he was in the Philippine Army's so-called "order of battle" list, a list believed to be targets for "liquidation." 

Jun cruz reyesReyes, who, along with national artist Bienvenido Lumbera, was among those who protested Malacanang's intervention in the conferment of this year's Order of National Artists, said that he did not give any attention to these strange events before because he was busy finishing his doctorate degree.

Enriquez said that what is happening to Prof. Jun Cruz Reyes is a clear case of surveillance operations on civilians, such as what was recently done to Prof. Bien Lumbera and to other militant activists.  The pattern is very clear and the action is not only a violation of their right to privacy but is also a threat to their security and the victims have reasons to fear for their safety. "Victims of human rights violations would report that they observed being followed or that their homes or offices being under heavy surveillance by unidentified men prior to abductions or killings. And this is a reason for us to be alarmed and concerned," Hilao-Enriquez added.

Enriquez also added that these surveillance operations are all the more chilling in the face of a rise on cases of extrajudicial killings such as  those of Dr. Benjamin Resuello of Northern Samar on April 1, 2009, Higaonon Datu Mampaagi Belayong of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur on Sept. 2, 2009; farmer leader Romulo Mendoba of Basey, Samar on Sept. 5, Fr. Cecilio Lucero of Catubig, Northern Samar on Sept. 6.  Also on Sept. 6, youth organizer Noriel Rodriguez was abducted in Cagayan Valley also by men believed to be soldiers.

Enriquez said that the Armed Forces is stepping up its counter-insurgency operations to meet Oplan Bantay Laya's deadline for 2010. "The Macapagal-Arroyo regime conveniently uses this counter-insurgency program not only to crush insurgents but to silence the critics of her anti-people policies.  We call on the people to resist the Arroyo tyranny!  Never again to martial law," Hilao-Enriquez concluded.###