Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler
“The new national security policy (NSP) further enables threats, including redtagging and vilification, against rights defenders and activists,” said human rights alliance Karapatan, as it condemned the recent spate of incidents following Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s approval of the NSP 2023-2028.
Warning that the NSP, signed on August 10, 2023 and released days after, bodes ill for the people’s human rights, Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said they have received reports of consecutive incidents of targeting individuals and progressive organizations in different areas.
On August 17, 2023, two makeshift banners were seen hanging on a barricade along the UP Academic Oval in Diliman, Quezon City, accusing Kabataan Partylist of being a recruiter for the NPA.
On August 18, 2023, paid elements of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in Cagayan Valley went on house-to-house visits to members of a newly formed farmers organization in Cauayan and Angadanan towns in Isabela, and forced them to “surrender” as “affiliates” of the CPP-NPA-NDF. The farmers are currently involved in campaigns to assert their right to till their farmlands.
The day after, on August 19, 2023, a tarpaulin was seen hanging along the highway in Brgy. Pengue Ruyu, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan containing the name and photograph of Makabayan-Cagayan Valley coordinator Agnes Mesina, with the word “TERORISTA,” and saying in Ilocano that a reward of PhP100,000 will be given to anyone who has information on her whereabouts.
These incidents happened just after Mesina and farmer leaders from Cagayan and Isabela held a consultation on the peasants’ campaign for affordable rice prices, along with the appeal to address growing hunger among landless families in the region.
“It is appalling how millions of pesos are spent to pay for these goons in the NTF-ELCAC while farmers who cry out for food and aid are threatened and harassed,” said Palabay. “They even have the gall to offer rewards against people like Mesina, who voluntarily help farmers in the region,” she added.
Meanwhile, on August 17, 2023, a meeting of the Department of Education Quezon City Division’s Third Quarter Management Committee (ManCom) maliciously and wrongfully vilified the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT). A slide presentation in the said meeting referred to ACT as a “CTG’s legal front organization overseeing the infiltration of the education sector.”
“We can expect such malicious acts of terror-tagging and vilification, which endanger the victims’ lives and security, to intensify under the NSP, making the victims targets of ever worsening rights violations,” decried Palabay. “Such despicable acts must stop, and the NSP junked.”