KARAPATAN to CHR: Investigate threats, terrorist-tagging of human rights defenders in Central Luzon, Negros

KARAPATAN decried the stepped up harassment inflicted by State security forces on human rights defenders in Central Luzon and Negros.

In Central Luzon, tarpaulins addressed to Karapatan-Central Luzon coordinator Pia Montalban were hung in at least three provinces — Pampanga, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija — accusing her and KARAPATAN of being the recruiters of ten alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) slain in a gunbattle in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija on June 26. The latter’s families had requested Montalban’s assistance in retrieving the bodies of their loved ones from a funeral parlor.

In Negros, elements of the 15th IBPA elements barged into the house of fisherfolk leader Joselito Macapobre in Barangay Guiljungan, Cauayan, Negros Occidental on June 11, 2024 while he was out selling fish. According to Macapobre’s wife, the men introduced themselves as “kaupod” (comrades), asked for his whereabouts and opened the bags inside his home, claiming to be in search of something Macapobre left for them. The soldiers had earlier summoned Macapobre on June 9 to “discuss” his submission of an affidavit in support of development workers of Paghida-et sa Kauswagan Development Group Inc (PDG) facing trumped-up terrorism financing cases. Macapobre refused the summons for fear of being coerced into retracting his affidavit.

KARAPATAN calls on the Commission on Human Rights to investigate these the red- and terror-tagging incidents against Pia Montalban and threats on Joselito Macapobre as these impact not only on their safety and security but those of the many other human rights workers and volunteers they work closely with.