Karapatan denounces Gestapo-like raids of NGO offices in Tacloban City

Karapatan denounces the arrest of our National Council member for Eastern Visayas Alexander Philip Abinguna along with four other human rights defenders, in the course of Gestapo-like police raids of our chapter’s office in Tacloban City and that of other people’s organizations.

Between 1:00am to 2:30am today, February 7, 2020, the office of Katungod Sinirangang Bisayas, Karapatan’s chapter in Region 8 which it shares with Bayan and peasant organizations SAGUPA in Fatima Village, Bañezville, Brgy. 77, Tacloban City, was raided by elements of the Philippine National Police led by a certain Lt. Col. Pedere. Abinguna, together with Mira Legion of Bayan and Marissa Cabaljao of People’s Surge with her 1-year old baby were sleeping when the police forcibly entered the office. They were brought out of their rooms and minutes after, at least two guns, 1 machine gun and materials for an improvised explosive device were planted in the rooms.

At the same time, a simultaneous raid was being conducted in the staff house of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Eastern Visayas and Eastern Vista in Calanipawan, Tacloban City, where Frenchie Mae Cumpio of Eastern Vista and Mariell Domanquill of RMP were arrested. Guns and ammunitions were planted in their rooms. 

In both cases, the warrants were only shown to those arrested after they were accosted.

Currently, the five, with Marissa’s baby, are currently detained at the Palo PNP Municipal Police Station. 

Prior to these incidents, Katungod-SB received reports on a possible raids of offices of non-government or people’s organizations on February 1. Several incidents of threats and harassment against the said individuals and their organizations have been reported as well, especially those who have been expressing opposition to Memorandum Order No. 32 and the various counterinsurgency policies of the Duterte administration. 

These incidents in Tacloban City came after the February 5 arrest of Karapatan Western Mindanao human rights worker Engr. Jennefer Aguhob, the reported warrants of arrests against Karapatan Northern Mindanao rights workers Teresita Naul and Aida Ibrahim, and the recent raids of activists’ offices in Negros and Manila in October and November 2019. 

Today’s arrests and raids should enrage those who stand for civil liberties and human rights, social justice and lasting peace in the country. We are calling on all advocates and communities to defend the rights of defenders against these attacks by the Duterte administration.