Karapatan hits gov’t disregard of Filipinos’ welfare as incidents of red-tagging persist amid a pandemic

Human rights group Karapatan criticized on Sunday, March 15, the relentless harassment and intimidation perpetrated by the Duterte regime following the red-tagging of human rights activists, including its Western Mindanao Chairperson and Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) Bishop Antonio Ablon and its Regional Council member from Northern Mindanao Teresita Naul.

On Wednesday, March 11, according to reports, leaflets maliciously accusing Ablon, Naul and other church workers and activists in Mindanao as part of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) were distributed near an IFI Church in Cugman, Cagayan de Oro City.

“This kind of malicious move from the government is truly dreadful as it intensifies the dangers posed against these individuals, amid the dangers posed by COVID-19,” Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor said.

The distributed leaflets viciously tagged 17 human rights defenders as “members, supporters, and organizers” of the CPP. The flyers had their photos and names printed, along with their supposed ranks in the group.

“This recent red-tagging is part of a systematic crackdown on activists who courageously stand for human rights amid the intensified efforts directed by this government to violate political and civil liberties,” he said.

According to the Karapatan official, in this time when the country is facing a pandemic, along with other countries, the government’s priorities is truly lamentable. “The people whom they have accused as terrorists are individuals working for the benefit of the poor. Filipinos being served by these accused individuals are the people who are always at risk of dangers posed by natural disasters, public health concerns and State-perpetrated abuses.”

“This regime does not know how to set its priorities. The government budget is a clear manifestation of its blatant disregard of the welfare of the Filipino people. It decreased the budget allocated for agencies providing basic social services including that for punlic health services while increasing confidential and intelligence funds. This goes to show that so long as the regime prioritizes crackdown on people’s movements, worse crises are set to happen,” he emphasized.

“With the railroading of the amendments to the Human Security Act of 2006 and the implementation of the Executive Order No. 70, State terrorism is at hand. The relentless crackdown against human rights defenders prove that military rule was never truly lifted in Mindanao as it even hounds other parts of the country,” he said.

“As this government continues its crackdown by maligning human rights defenders who uphold people’s rights, we call on all international and local organizations, especially those who are acquainted with the work of these red-tagged individuals to raise the alarm. Let us stand together to defy these new waves of repression, and to remind the government that human rights activists will never cower in fear.”