Karapatan denounces latest round of arrests on trumped-up charges

Human rights alliance Karapatan decried the latest round of arrests that have victimized seven Cordillera activists and an elderly couple on trumped-up charges.

Yesterday, January 30, 2022, Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA) staff Jennifer Awingan was arrested at her home after being served a warrant on rebellion charges. Also named in the warrant are CPA Regional Council member and torture survivor Steve Tauli, CPA Chairperson Windel Bolinget who was previously detained on fabricated charges in 2021, Northern Dispatch correspondent Niño Oconer, peasant leader Lourdes Jimenez and development workers Sarah Abellon and Florence Kang.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay assailed authorities for not affording the Northern Luzon-based activists their right to due process during the inquest proceedings since they did not receive any subpoena on the rebellion complaint against them. “They do not even know the particulars of the case they are facing,” said Palabay.

Meanwhile, also reportedly arrested Sunday night in General Santos City are retired National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Ruben Saluta, his wife Presentacion and their companion Yvonne Losaria. Ruben, who is 75 years old and Presentacion, who is 63, both suffer from various illnesses.

“Previous charges against the Saluta couple have been long dismissed,” said Palabay, “and it is highly possible that the firearms and other so-called evidence taken during their arrest were planted, just like in the past case against them,” she added.

“Karapatan denounces these recent arrests and trumped-up charges as part of the renewed attacks against activists and political dissenters. We condemn the weaponization of the law to criminalize activism, and demand the immediate release of Awingan, the Saluta couple and Losaria, as we call for the junking of the trumped-up charges against them,” said Palabay.