Karapatan renews calls to junk MO 32 following arrest of farmer, disappearance of urban poor organizer in Negros

Photo from Defend Negros

Human rights watchdog Karapatan sounded alarm over the disappearance of urban poor community organizer and former political prisoner Iver Larit, as well as the recent raids in Brgy. Budlasan, Canlaon City, Negros Oriental which led to the arrest of farmer Nemfa Delima, as the group renewed calls for to junk Memorandum Order (MO) No. 32 “which has only engendered grave violations of people’s rights in Negros for the past three years.”

“We are alarmed about the disappearance of urban poor organizer Iver Larit as well as the reported arrest of Nemfa Delima after her house was ransacked, and that planted ‘evidence’ were supposedly seized from her. We believe that these recent incidents in Negros are part of orchestrated efforts under MO 32 — and far from suppressing or preventing ‘lawless violence,’ it has only facilitated militarization and grave human rights violations in Negros,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay stated.

Last Friday, April 1, 2022, State elements ransacked the house of Delima and illegally arrested her. A calibre .38, ammunition and a rifle grenade were planted in her residence. Meanwhile, Larit, the education officer of Kadamay – Negros, remains missing after he left their residence in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental around 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 5, 2022, and did not arrive at an appointment with an urban poor community which he was helping to organize against threats of demolition.

By 10 a.m. of the same day, Larit’s son could no longer reach his father through his mobile number. The following day, April 6, 2022, Larit’s son filed a police blotter to report his father’s disappearance, which, by then, had already lapsed 24 hours. As of writing, Larit remains missing. The urban poor community organizer is a former political prisoner and has been a target of harassment and other attacks throughout the years.

In 2011, Larit was detained for eight months over a trumped-up robbery-in-band charge, but he was eventually released when the charge was dismissed for lack of substantial evidence. His name was also included in a “kill, kill, kill” list of activists in Negros which was sent to the Karapatan national office’s public information desk through a text message just mere hours after the Bloody Sunday raids throughout the Southern Tagalog region last year.

Palabay said that “the raids in Brgy. Budlasan which led to the ransacking of Nemfa Delima’s house and her arrest as well as Larit’s disappearance follow the string of attacks in Negros for the past four years. Continuing and intensified counterinsurgency operations in Negros under MO 32 have only sown terror in communities while endangering the lives of activists and human rights defenders — and as the Duterte administration faces its last days in power, we fear that such attacks would only worsen.”

“We call for the immediate release of Nemfa Delima and the junking of the fabricated charges against her. We also call to surface Iver Larit now, and to end the militarization as well as the attacks and harassment of activists and communities in Negros with the urgent call to junk MO 32. Now more than ever, all freedom-loving Filipinos should denounce these attacks and press the calls for justice,” she ended.