Rights group slams military hitlist in Northern Mindanao, continuing detention of rights defenders

Karapatan deplores the release of what it calls a military hit list, as yet another case of harassment against human rights defenders in Northern Mindanao. 

At around 10:30 A.M. today, January 22, 2019, in the middle of the Hustisya-Northern Mindanao assembly and launching at the Philtown Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, a suspected military agent approached the security guard of the said hotel and handed him two brown envelopes. Each envelope contained 13 copies of flyers listing organizations of youth and teachers, and tagging names of church workers, lawyers, rights advocates and that of a journalist, as “terrorist members of the New People’s Army and Communist Party of the Philippines.”

Among the names listed in the flyers were Iglesia Filipino Independiente Bp. Felixberto Calang, Fr. Rolando Abejo of Movement Against Tyranny-Northern Mindanao, Karapatan Northern Mindanao spokesperson Fr. Khen Apus, human rights lawyers Beverly Musni, Czarina Musni, and Beverly Ann Musni, and journalist Cong Corrales and his family. 

“Such notorious lists have further endangered the already perilous situation of human rights defenders. We have repeatedly raised how these arbitrary and baseless accusations incite threats to the lives and security of named individuals, the worst of which is that they become victims of extrajudicial killings. We call on the Commission on Human Rights and the local governments to protect the rights defenders and make accountable those who continue to put their lives at risk,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, who was in the above-mentioned event in Cagayan de Oro City.  

Karapatan, Sandugo and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas joined relatives of victims of human rights violations and other Mindanao-based rights activists in a National Solidarity Mission from February 21-22, 2019, to look into the situation of recently arrested activists such as Kalumbay leader Datu Jomorito Guaynon, KMP leader Ireneo Udarbe and the four members of the Misamis Oriental Farmers Association and that of evacuees from Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental. The said mission also engaged with CHR Region 10 and other government agencies to call for the release of the detained activists. 

“Activists and everyone are being wrongly tagged as terrorists. The anti-terror law is being arbitrarily used against activists like Guaynon and Udarbe. This situation is made worse by the continuing implementation of martial law in Mindanao,” Palabay said. 

“We affirm the urgent need for the lifting of martial law in Mindanao, as we lament that the Supreme Court has recently ruled again for its extension. We assert that martial law has worsened the already difficult situation of the Mindanaoans. Nevertheless, the people of Mindanao will continue to persist and resist,” she concluded. 

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, +639173162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580