Karapatan hits "hitlisting" of PNP, DILG

“Hitlisting is systematic and done by state forces as a matter of policy, and on a nationwide scale,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, as the group condemned the most recent actions of the Department of Interior and Local Government, which openly directed its regional heads to “investigate” who are the members of organizations they have tagged as “front organizations” of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.

“Openly gathering names of members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers and COURAGE should not be taken lightly now that killings and arrests are the order of the day for state forces after openly threatening and red-tagging the victims,” said Palabay.

The group also said that ACT, a nationwide alliance of teachers, and the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE) are undoubtedly “organizations that advance the rights and welfare of teachers and employees in the public sector for so many years, and both have untainted records of service to their constituents and to the people in general.”

Karapatan said such organized efforts are not plain red-tagging, but are a part of the whole plan in relation to the Duterte regime’s counter-insurgency plan, along the same breath of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s tireless red-tagging and threats against activists, opposition and government critics.

Karapatan likewise said that efforts of regional and local Philippine National Police (PNP) units for names of lawyers, as well as copies of unserved and alias warrants, should not be taken lightly.

“Such orders and actions of the PNP should be exposed and stopped. It endangers the lives, safety of persons and all the more violates the rights of people to freedom of association, privacy and even movement,” Palabay said.

Karapatan also said that moves by the PNP to ask for unserved warrants in local courts in Northern and Central Luzon and another in Central Luzon are complementary to its formation of lists of members of progressive organizations.

“We commend the judges from the local courts, although anonymous, who upheld their authority and integrity of the justice system they represent. This should likewise be looked into, because lists and resurrecting old unserved warrants complement each other. If these requests were not exposed or at least stopped for now, who knows who’s the next victim of arrests, trumped up charges or search warrants which unveil not alleged illegal items but dead bodies and more victims of this dirty war by the Duterte regime?” said Palabay.

Similarly, Palabay said that the PNP should be made to admit as to who ordered Calbayog police intelligence chief Lt. Fernando Calabria Jr. to “request” for names of lawyers handling cases of accused.

“To harass and threaten even lawyers who stand as counsel for accused persons, and red-tagging them like their clients, goes to show the viciousness and lack of recognition of the rule of law which they would always use against political offenders. While they use the law to suppress dissent, they also stand above the law to justify arrests, trumped up charges and ultimately, killings,” Palabay said.

Karapatan called for heightened vigilance, and again urged for the most needed investigation from independent bodies.

“All these actions of State forces increasingly have become similar to the handiwork of hard criminals and organized syndicates. This calls for vigilance, activist or not, and again, we urge stronger statements of concern and most urgent investigation on the whole repressive policy of the Philippine state,” said Palabay.