Karapatan slams surveillance, threats on Chairperson, human rights workers

Karapatan decries the recent cases of surveillance and threats against its human rights workers in “what clearly appears to be systematic and organized effort to attack, intimidate, and vilify human rights defenders and our work of documenting and reporting rights violations.”
“The government has called Karapatan and its human rights workers many names—demons, terrorists, enemies of the state — putting our lives and security at risk, but never did we once falter in the face of the fascist Duterte regime’s increasing desperation to shut down Karapatan and our work of exposing the government’s human rights violations and attacks against the people. We denounce the most recent incidents of surveillance connected to the threats of arrest against our chairperson Elisa Tita Lubi,” Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said.

In a press conference with environmental watchdog Kalikasan and the Save Our Schools Network on Monday, Karapatan reiterated that its members have been the subject of state harassment online and offline as well as surveillance, arrests, and killings as the government’s reprisal on its critics, particularly human rights workers. Along with outrageous allegations before the United Nations Human Rights Council and the international community that Karapatan has been unlawfully operating in the country—despite documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission showing that Karapatan remains registered a non-governmental and non-profit organization—the government has lied through their teeth in ridiculously denying that state agents are engaging in reprisals against human rights workers, especially Karapatan members.

“Karapatan has received reports regarding the threats of arrests against our chairperson Elisa Tita Lubi, who is on medical leave, not to mention the rather blatant threat from the trumped-up perjury case filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. against eight officers of Karapatan, Gabriela, and the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines for seeking legal protection before the Supreme Court from constant threats against our rights to life, liberty and security,” Palabay said.

Among the recent cases and threats against Karapatan members include the following:

  • On October 1, 2019, Tuesday, around 4:40 p.m., an unnamed man onboard a plateless black motorcycle discreetly took pictures of Karapatan National Council member Jose Mari Callueng and two Karapatan staff members without their consent as they were walking from Karapatan’s National Office along Maaralin St. to Matalino St. at Brgy. Central, Quezon City. The man had already been spotted in the vicinity near Karapatan’s office for the past few days.
  • On October 3, 2019, Thursday, around 8:20 a.m., another unnamed man onboard a black motorcycle walked towards the center of the intersection of Matatag and Matalino Streets and took pictures of Callueng, Karapatan Vice Chairperson Reylan Vergara, Deputy Secretary-General Roneo Clamor, legal counsel Atty. Maria Sol Taule as they were walking on their way from our office to the Quezon City Department of Justice to file the final rejoinder in the perjury case filed by Esperon. Upon being confronted by Vergara and Clamor around 9:45 a.m., the said man denied taking pictures of the four Karapatan officers. On the same day, around 1:00 p.m to 1:11 p.m., the unnamed man that took pictures of Karapatan staff on October 1 tailed the vehicle of Palabay and three other staff members from the corner of Matatag and Maaralin Streets to the Philippine Heart Center along Matalino St. When Palabay’s vehicle slowed down and the man sensed that his picture was being taken, the man drove around and turned the other way. A blotter concerning the incidents from the October 1 and 3 has been filed by Karapatan before the Office of the Barangay Captain of Brgy. Central on October 5, 2019.

“We allege that police and military elements are behind all of these efforts of surveillance and intimidation, especially in connection to the poorly-fabricated perjury case filed against us by Esperon. We believe that these incidents are related to the threats of arrest against Lubi, as Esperon and his cohorts have been angling to get their hands on her,” Palabay continued.

“These efforts show clear threat to our lives and security as human rights workers. If the perpetrators think that these threats are, in any way, scaring human rights workers from doing their work, they must think again: their threats are merely urging more and more people to resist tyranny and despotic rule,” the Karapatan official ended. ###