KARAPATAN welcomes dismissal of terrorism financing charges vs 2 youth human rights workers

Human rights alliance KARAPATAN welcomed the dismissal of the trumped-up terrorist financing cases against young human rights workers Fritz Labiano and Paul Tagle.

In an order dated June 5, 2024, Batangas City Regional Trial Court 7 Presiding Judge Aida Carrera Santos ordered the dismissal after the complainants failed to comply with the court’s deadline to submit additional evidence. Labiano and Tagle, both paralegals based in Southern Tagalog, were accused of terrorist financing after providing food and other forms of humanitarian assistance to two newly arrested environmental rights defenders from Quezon.

“This means that the so-called evidence originally submitted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) which recommended Tagle and Labiano ‘s indictment fell short of the standards for probable cause,” said KARAPATAN secretary general Cristina Palabay.

“In weaponizing anti-terror laws, the DOJ has been concocting baseless and flimsy cases to harass activists and other human rights defenders and derail their work,” added Palabay. “In the process, it has also been burdening our already backlogged courts and wasting taxpayers’ money.”

So far, at least 112 human rights defenders and ordinary citizens have faced complaints or charges, or are detained on alleged violations of the Anti-Terrorism Act or the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act.

“It is high time that the country’s anti-terror laws are revoked for being injurious to the free exercise of the people’s civil and political rights, including the right to defend human rights and to provide humanitarian assistance,'” concluded Palabay.