AFP, PNP in arrest rampage after cancellation of talks

“President Duterte’s ‘cancellation’ of the formal peacetalks of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has further emboldened State security forces to arrest and detain activists, development workers, peace consultants and civilians on trumped up criminal charges, in line with the counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan. Instead of releasing political prisoners, the Duterte administration seems to be in a rampage to increase the number of individuals suffering from this kind of injustice,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in a rally at Camp Crame, Quezon City today, February 14.

From February 3 to 12, 2017, Karapatan received reports of illegal arrests of at least fifteen (19) individuals, many are activists and civilians. Fifteen (15) of them are still detained, as of this writing.

Among those recently arrested, on February 12, is activist Ferdinand Castillo, 57. Combined elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), Intelligence Service Group (ISG) Philippine Army, and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) arrested him without warrant in Caloocan City. Castillo was blindfolded for almost four hours and was later brought to the PNP-CIDG office in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

He is facing trumped-up charges of murder and attempted murder in RTC Branch 63 in Calauag, Quezon Province, and charges of illegal possession of firearms, despite his protests on the planting of evidence in his belongings. Castillo is the campaign officer of Bayan Metro Manila, an alliance of Metro Manila-based people’s organizations, known to uphold people’s rights and welfare.

Two women development workers were also illegally arrested on fabricated criminal offenses.  Rogina Quilop, 49, administrative officer of the Center for People’s Resources and Services (CPRS), was arrested on February 7, 2017 in Bacolod City by PNP-CIDG elements for murder charges. She is currently detained at the Handumanan Female Dorm. On February 9, 2017, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, a member of the Board of Directors of the Regional Development Center – Katinnulong Dagiti Umili ti Amianan (RDC-Kadaumi), was accosted by elements of the AFP while on her way to downtown Baguio City. She was detained for two days without charges before she was turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP) station on February 11 for trumped-up charges of arson and robbery. She is now temporarily released on bail. Alikes, a Kankanaey-Igorot, is a pioneer of the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA).

On February 11, after an encounter between the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) and the New People’s Army (NPA) in Sitio Tangis and Sitio Salutan, Brgy. Datal Anggas, Alabel in Sarangani Province, the AFP launched an aerial bombing operation in the area, dropping a total of six (6) bombs in the said community. Around 100 families evacuated to the center of Brgy. Datal Anggas, while the military also arrested eight (8) civilians were used as guides in their operations. They are still currently in the custody of the military, as the AFP troops remain encamped in the community.

With the GRP’S termination of JASIG and orders to re-arrest NDFP consultants, Palabay criticized the PNP and AFP on the violation of the JASIG and the rights to due process of the NDFP consultants.

On February 13, the RTC Branch 33 in Iloilo ordered the re-issuance of the warrant of arrest against Concha Araneta Bocala, despite archiving the rebellion. On February 6, NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario was arrested in Toril, Davao City.

This afternoon, at RTC Branch 266 in Taguig City, Alan Jazmines and Tirso Alcantara are scheduled for arraignment. The Office of the Solicitor General filed a motion to cancel bail and for issuance of commitment order against Alcantara.

“The GRP and its State security forces should account for the continuing violations of JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) despite clear provisions on the obligations and commitments of both Parties, especially the GRP, even if formal peacetalks are suspended, cancelled or terminated. We reiterate our call for the continuation of the formal peacetalks between the GRP and the NDFP and for the GRP to honor previously signed agreements,” Palabay concluded.