Rights group decries threats vs journos’, civilians’ right to privacy

Human rights alliance Karapatan decried the stepped up State encroachment on civilians’ right to privacy and against increasing threats, amid reports of so-called “visits” to homes or offices of journalists.

Over the weekend, a number of journalists were alarmed by unannounced visits to their homes by alleged Philippine National Police personnel, who were purportedly checking on whether they had been receiving threats.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay slammed the unsolicited visits to journalists’ homes as a “blatant invasion of privacy” and “ill-disguised threat and harassment.” The visits, which were not coordinated with offices of concerned journalists, came just days after vlogger and hard-hitting government critic Percy Lapid was gunned down and broadcasters Ed Lingao and Lourd de Veyra received death threats online.

In still another disturbing development, Palabay cited reports that the AFP has denied media access to civilians who had been forced to evacuate after a series of clashes between the military and the New People’s Army in a number of hinterland villages of Himamaylan, Negros Occidental. Stringent military checkpoints have also reportedly disrupted the people’s livelihoods and hampered relief efforts by church and civic organizations and even LGUs.

This was closely followed by disclosures from Karapatan field workers that the military attempted to stop fisherfolk in Cawayan, New Washington, Aklan from attending a humanitarian and peace mission conducted by the provincial chapters of Bayan and Pamalakaya on October 12 to 13 and that those who attended were being coerced to return relief goods provided by the mission.

“More and more, people are being threatened, coerced and intimidated by abusive State forces and no longer feel secure in their persons and their own homes. We demand that State forces put a stop to their overarching arrogance, and desist from abusing their authority, encroaching on people’s privacy and trampling on the rights of civilians,” said Palabay.