Karapatan condemns arrest warrant vs. former political prisoner and peasant activist Angie Ipong

Human rights group Karapatan strongly denounced the warrant of arrest issued against former political prisoner and peasant activist Angelina Bisuña Ipong and several others for a trumped-up murder case. The warrant was issued by acting executive judge Lou A. Nueva of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Bayugan City, Agusan del Suron June 6, 2018. The same warrant was used to arrest Antonietta Dizon, former deputy secretary general of the Confederation for Unity, Recognition, and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE), last September 17, 2019.
“A peasant advocate and aa former political prisoner, Iponghas been relentless in the advocacy for people’s rights, campaigning for the  release of political prisoners and genuine agrarian reform. During her time in detention in 2005, Ipongtaught her fellow inmates how to grow a garden behind bars! She has been a long-time activist, dedicating her life to poor peasants, far from the false and malicious murderer label that this desperate government forces on her," said Karapatan deputy secretary general Roneo Clamor.
Prior to the 2018 arrest warrant against Ipong, she was arbitrarily arrested in 2005 for trumped-up charges of arson and murder. She was abducted and was held incommunicado for 14 days,subjected to sexual abuse and torture while in the custody her military captors. She was detained for six years, and was subsequently released in 2011 following the dismissal of the trumped-up charges against her.

“The fabricated charges against Ipong were dismissed due to lack of evidence, but six years of her life had already been irreversibly taken  - six years of injustice when she was separated from her family and forced to suffer dire conditions in jail for a crime she did not commit. Now, the government is at it again, notwithstanding, the torture, sexual abuse, illegal arrest and trumped-up charges that Ipong underwent; Truly, this government is vindictive, ruthless and fascist. Only a rotten state will fear such individuals and continuously harass and persecute them," Clamor explained.

Clamor also mentioned the case of Antonietta Dizon, who was arrested on September 17, 2019. He explained that in the course of arresting Dizon, operatives also planted evidence in her residence while they were conducting a "search." This is why, on top of the false murder charge from the Bayugan court, the police also filed another trumped-up case of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against her. "This is now an ongoing trend in the conduct of arrest of activists," he added.

The Karapatan official linked the release of the warrant against Ipong, as well as the arrest of Dizon, to the devious work of the PNP-AFP's Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA): "These are all orchestrated in line with the policy of the government to persecute its perceived enemies. There are now at least five activists who are detained because of trumped-up cases manufactured and with the complicity of issuing courts in different parts of the Caraga region. Caraga, under PNP-AFP’s IACLA, has become the warrant factory of state forces, used to weaponize the law and circumvent legal processes."

"We are now seeing the methodical and crooked tactics of state forces. Dizon is now retired, and Ipong is with a peasant organization, yet they remain targets. The Duterte government does not tolerate dissent and it is retooling the necessary structures to justify its political persecution against individuals and groups labelled as "enemies of the State." Our laws, courts, legal processes are being increasingly subverted to be party to the government's vindictive and fascist agenda," he further stated.

“VWe stand with Ipong, Dizon, all political prisoners, and the many others who continue to be subjected to political persecution. We call for the immediate dismissal of these trumped-up charges and the abolition of the PNP-AFP’s IACLA. Activists like Ipong will continue to speak out, so long as violations, exploitation, and repression continue. The government can cover their ears to the deafening calls for justice and accountability amid failed policies, but even tyrants are not invincible, especially in the face of a united people," Clamor concluded.