Terror tag still hounds rights defenders even as court cuts down list to two individuals

“Despite the recent court decision cutting down the names of those included in the Justice Department’s proscription petition from more than 600 names to 8, then finally down to 2 individuals, rights defenders and political dissenters initially included remain vulnerable to attacks. This is not a reprieve. So long as the proscription case remains, it will be further fuel and justify the government’s obsession to crackdown on progressive groups. In light of the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007, or Anti-Terror Law, we cannot stress enough how dangerous this petition is in the hands of a fascist maniac like Duterte,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

On February 1, 2019, Judge Marlo Magdoza-Malagar of the Manila Regional Trial Court trimmed the list of names included in the proscription petition, leaving the names of Jose Maria Sison and Antonio Cabanatan. The Justice Department’s orginal list consisted of more than 600 names, including 8 deceased individuals and even names of disappeared activists.

“We remind everyone of how arbitrary this petition is. Even DOJ officials admitted that the names in these lists are unverified. Yet, by releasing their names and tagging them as ‘terrorists,’ many have been subjected to rights violations. Removing their names is insufficient. We cite the example of the recent case of slain Randy Malayao, peace consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, whose name was stricken off the petition, yet he was still extrajudicially killed. Worse, aggravated by this petition, the police has repeatedly maligned him, despite evidence pointing otherwise. It is clear to us that this petition should instead be withdrawn,” explained Palabay.

The Karapatan official also raised the issue of recent cases of known activist and progressive leaders being charged with trumped-up charges, particularly in connection to the anti-terror law. “There have been parallel efforts from this repressive government for political persecution -- working on a free pass to attack those alleged by Duterte as legal communist fronts through incessant red-tagging and the proscription petition, and subsequently by legitimizing this rampage by using an already draconian law,” she added.

On January 30, 2019, trumped up complaints, including alleged violations on RA  9372 or the Anti-Terror Law, were filed against indigenous peoples’ leader Jomorito Guaynon, peasant leader Ireneo Udarbe and four members of the Misamis Oriental Farmers Association (MOFA) at the Office of the Prosecutor at Cagayan de Oro City. All six are currently detained at Camp Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City.

“Individuals not in the proscription petition are already being silenced through State terrorism, making the situation so much worse and perilous for those already tagged by the government as alleged members of the CPP-NPA. The government has now crafted a whole gamut of policies, maneuvers, laws, and amendments that justify, facilitate, enable, and reward these attacks against the Filipino people.We reiterate our position for the withdrawal of the proscription petition and  our vehement opposition to the Human Security Act and its proposed amendments,” concluded Palabay.

References: Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General, +639173162831 

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580