Karapatan condemns arrests of Anakpawis nominee, church worker

Human rights alliance Karapatan condemned on Tuesday the recent arrests of Anakpawis Partylist fourth nominee Isabelo Adviento and Iglesia Filipina Independiente’s (IFI) Aldeem Yañez, as the group scored the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for their “desperate efforts to continue the Duterte administration’s campaigns of State terror and repression even in its last days in power.”

“The arrests of Isabelo Adviento and Aldeem Yañez employ the same modus operandi of trumped-up charges and planted evidence — malevolent tactics that have been repeatedly used by the NTF-ELCAC to criminalize all forms of dissent. The spate of arrests, threats, red-tagging, and harassment targeting activists, human rights workers, and the opposition clearly intend to sow fear as the elections draw near, but we will not be cowed,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Adviento was arrested last Friday, April 8, 2022, in a fast-food restaurant in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya on charges originating from the illegal search conducted by the Philippine National Police’s Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and the Philippine Army’s 77th Infantry Battalion on his residence in Baggao, Cagayan last December 2, 2020. He was not present in his residence during the illegal search as he was then taking part in relief efforts for communities affected by Typhoon Ulysses.

In November 2021, various people’s organizations from Cagayan Valley launched the “Hands Off Isabelo Adviento” campaign as they called on the Commission on Human Rights and the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights to investigate the harassment against Adviento and the other attacks against activists in the region. Adviento is also the leader of Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon, the chapter of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Cagayan Valley. He worked with Karapatan and other human rights organizations in the region in assisting Marcos’ martial law victims-survivors in filing their applications for reparations under the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

Palabay asserted that Adviento’s arrest was “evidently part of the NTF-ELCAC’s efforts to malign and harass progressive partylists from the Makabayan coalition and the political opposition,” as she cited the illegal arrest of Makabayan’s Cagayan Valley coordinator Agnes Mesina last February 28, 2022, the various reports of harassment against members of Anakpawis Partylist, and President Rodrigo Duterte’s red-tagging against Makabayan and Vice President Leni Robredo’s campaign.

“The NTF-ELCAC’s attacks, which brazenly target the political opposition, threaten not only the people’s right to freely and safely participate in the conduct of public affairs: most importantly, these attacks undermine the integrity of our electoral processes. That State resources and machinery are being shamelessly weaponized by the NTF-ELCAC to facilitate human rights violations and attacks on the opposition should be a cause of indignation,” the Karapatan official continued.

Meanwhile, Yañez was arrested in an early morning raid last Sunday, April 10, 2020, in his home in Cagayan de Oro City, Misamis Oriental. As of writing, we are still awaiting information regarding the details of Yañez’s arrest. On June 4, 2018, Yañez was among the 13 activists and church workers arrested during a program consultation of the IFI’s Visayas-Mindanao Regional Office for Development regarding issues on farmers and the Lumad in General Santos City, South Cotabato.

“We demand the immediate release of Isabelo Adviento and Aldeem Yañez, the junking of the baseless and trumped-up charges against them, and to stop these attacks against activists, human rights workers, and the opposition. The Duterte regime can delude itself into thinking that these attacks will make us cower in fear, but they are mistaken. These attacks only strengthen our resolve to assert the calls to abolish the NTF-ELCAC, and to resist and defeat tyranny in May and beyond,” she ended.