Human Rights Worker Gets Death Threats in Kidapawan, North Cotabato, Mindanao, Philippines

Following the assassination of peasant leader Celso Pojas in Davao City on May 15, 2008, Mr. Kelly Delgado, 31 years old and head of the Karapatan team that responded to the incident, was invited for a radio interview by Mr. Abner Francisco of Charm Radio based in Kidapawan City. He was interviewed on May 16, 2008 at around 8:30 a.m. The interview lasted for about 30 minutes.

An hour and a half later, at around 10 a.m., Charm Radio received three (3) text messages (SMS) through its official mobile phone number.

The message read:

"Charm, yn ang hirp s mga supporter ng mga NPA. Kong my mngyri s knl. Sundalo agd ang pbintngan. Kong sundalo ang mmty hnd mn kau ngsslita pra s pnig s sundalo. Ikaw nmn ang sunod jn mr. Kelly n iligpid. Six fet below d ground kn Kelly." (That's what's wrong with New People's Army (NPA) supporters, if something happens to the NPA, they immediately blame the soldiers. But if a soldier dies, they don't speak to defend the soldiers. You are the next one to be eliminated, Mr. Kelly. You're already six feet below the ground, Kelly.)

On May 19, 2008, the radio station forwarded these messages to Delgado to warn him of the threat. The radio station, however, refused to disclose the number of the mobile phone that was the source of the threat. According to them, it is the station's policy to keep listeners' contact details confidential.

As Secretary General of Karapatan in Southern Mindanao, Delgado has led quick reaction teams to respond to reports of human rights violations and is a vocal critic of human rights abuses of members of the military.

Karapatan, a national alliance of human rights organizations, desks, programs and individual human rights advocates, has lost 33 human rights workers to extrajudicial killings in the course of human rights work since 2001 up to the present. Each one was a victim of a vicious military campaign of incitement to violence.

Human rights defenders must be able to continue their work unhampered. Vilification campaigns must be stopped and the safety of human rights workers must be ensured.#