URGENT APPEAL FOR  ACTION ON THE ARREST OF ADORA FAYE DE VERA

URGENT APPEAL FOR  ACTION ON THE ARREST OF ADORA FAYE DE VERA

August 31, 2022

Dear friends and colleagues,

Greetings of peace!

It has been a week since women’s rights activist Adora Faye de Vera, 66, a martial law survivor, former political prisoner and kin of a desaparecido, was arrested in Quezon City, Philippines.

On August 24, 2022, Adora Faye de Vera was staying at a rented apartment in Maalalahanin Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City. At around 2:00 p.m., two women wearing uniforms presenting themselves as members of the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) came to the apartment building and claimed that they were there to check the place for marijuana. They went to the floor where de Vera was staying and spoke to her. After speaking to her, they walked away and shouted “positive, positive”, and went back to where the two white vans without license plates were waiting.

De Vera went back to bed. Suddenly, several men and one woman (one of those previously wearing the BFP uniform; she had taken it off and was already in plainclothes) barged into the apartment. They then claimed to be cops, brandished their firearms, and told de Vera that they were arresting her.

De Vera told them to inform her family and asked to see a warrant. The woman showed a photocopy of a document, but the writing was faded and de Vera could only make out her name but not other details, such as the name of the judge or the date of the document. 

The arresting team then dragged de Vera downstairs, out the gate, and into the white van. All the while, the victim was screaming. Some of the members of the arresting team stayed behind and were going through the items inside the room.

While being held by her captors, de Vera suffered an asthma attack. She was taken to the airport (she could not identify exactly which airport or terminal) where she was given medicine. She was also experiencing stomach pains as she has had nothing to eat. She and her captors then boarded a Philippine Airlines commercial flight to Panay.

De Vera could not ascertain at which airport the plane landed, but upon disembarkation, she was again made to board a motor vehicle and was taken straight to the Philippine National Police station in Calinog town, Iloilo Province, where her captors turned her over to the local police. That night, past 9:00 p.m., de Vera was “booked” and her mug shots were taken. She complained of stomach pains as none of her custodians had given her anything to eat.

On August 26, the victim was again “booked,” supposedly for another warrant, and new mugshots were taken. She was then brought to a courtroom at the Iloilo City Hall of Justice at around 9:00 a.m., supposedly for the return of the arrest warrant. Thereafter, she was brought back to the Calinog PNP station.

During the almost two days after her arrest, de Vera had not been assisted by a lawyer. Unverified reports of her arrest only began to come out through local online community news in the late afternoon of August 25, and she was denied of her requests to contact her lawyer or relatives.

It was only on August 26, at around 3:30 p.m., when a family member, a lawyer and paralegals arrived at the Calinog PNP station, after news on her whereabouts were ascertained. They were able to talk with de Vera and conduct a preliminary interview concerning the circumstances of and events following her arrest.

De Vera showed bruises in her wrists caused by tightened handcuffs. She also complained of swelling in her toes after her captors had stepped on them during the arrest. She underwent an examination by a physician that afternoon.

In the afternoon of August 27, the Calinog PNP brought De Vera to the BJMP detention facility in Brgy. Nanga, Pototan town, Iloilo Province. Her lawyer and paralegals were informed that she would have to be quarantined in a separate area of the facility for a period of two weeks as part of the BJMP’s transfer procedure.

The next day, August 28, a family member and paralegals were able to visit the BJMP facility and see de Vera, but could not approach her because of strict quarantine protocols.

As of this writing, police reports of the arrest and detention as well as records of the cases against de Vera are yet to be obtained. At least one of the cases is pending before Branch 22 of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City. According to de Vera, she had not been received any subpoena regarding any complaint or court charges against her, so she was unaware of the existence of these charges until her arrest.

Who is Adora Faye de Vera?

Adora Faye de Vera is an activist, writer and researcher. She was also the deputy secretary general of Gabriela in the 1990s, and stood for the rights of women, herself being a victim of violence against women when she was arrested and tortured by the military under Marcos’ martial law. Even after her term as a Gabriela national officer, she continued to organize and work with peasant women, while doing freelance work. She was in Quezon City for medical care as she suffered from chronic asthma and anemia.

Apart from being a political prisoner, de Vera is kin to a victim of enforced disappearance. Her husband, Manuel Manaog, was abducted and disappeared in 1990, when he was supposed to celebrate Father’s Day with their son, and has never been found since.

This being her third arrest, state forces have portrayed de Vera to the public as a terrorist, purportedly erasing the crimes they have committed against her, from her detention, torture and rape, and the disappearance of her husband.

Yet, de Vera remains undaunted in the struggle for justice and human rights. She was one of the ten named plaintiffs in the class suit against the Marcos estate filed in District Court in Hawaii after the fall of the dictatorship in 1986. Her account had become one of the compelling testimonies which were instrumental in pursuing justice against all the atrocities of the Marcos regime.

Karapatan stands with de Vera’s family in denouncing her arrest and in asserting that the purported criminal charges against her are fabricated. The manner in which she was arrested, and held incommunicado for many hours, is a cause for concern, because many of the political prisoners have suffered the same ordeal. There are currently 801 political prisoners as of August 31, 2022, according to Karapatan’s documentation team.

These charges, mostly non-bailable, are clearly meant to silence her and stop her from his continued call for justice for victims of human rights violations, especially now under the Marcos II administration.

We urgently appeal for your support and solidarity by:

1. Writing letters and statements calling for the release of Adora Faye de Vera and the dismissal of the trumped-up charges her, and to send the letters and statements to the following:

Mr. Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., President of the Republic of the Philippines

Fax: +632 742-1641 / 929-3968 / +632 87368621

Email: op@president.gov.ph/pcc@malacanang.gov.phor send a message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/

Dr. Clarita Carlos

National Security Adviser and Director General of the National Security Council

East Avenue corner V. Luna Road, Quezon City, Philippines

Email: publicaffairs@nsc.gov.ph 

Mr. Jesus Crispin C. Remulla, Secretary, Department of Justice of the Philippines

Fax: +632 521-1614 / +632 85262618

Email: communications@doj.gov.ph/osecmig@gmail.com

Atty. Jacqueline de Guia

Executive Director, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines

Fax: +632 929 0102

Email: oedchr@gmail.com 

2.  Issuing statements of solidarity for Adora Faye de Vera as well as imprisoned human rights defenders who are facing similar trumped-up charges to be circulated to the public and media circles, and calling on the Philippine government to:

a. Stop the red-tagging and judicial harassment against human rights defenders and their organizations;

b. Dismiss/junk the fabricated charges against Adora Faye de Vera and other defenders;

c. Recall Executive Order No. 70, creating a national task force (NTF) to end local communist armed conflict and institutionalizing the so-called whole of nation approach; to stop all activities emanating from this order, including the smear campaigns and judicial harassment against human rights activists;

d. Withdraw its counterinsurgency program, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians, and human rights defenders; and

e. Adhere to and respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and all major Human Rights instruments that it is a party and signatory.

Please send us a copy of your email to the above-named officials, to our address below:

Karapatan Alliance Philippines

National Office

2/F Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin cor Matatag Sts., Brgy. Central,

Diliman, Quezon City 1100 PHILIPPINES

Telefax: (+632) 435 4146

Email: karapatan@karapatan.org

Website: www.karapatan.org

3. Provide moral and material support to Adora Faye de Vera and her family.

You may send your support letters and messages for them through karapatan@karapatan.org, but expect that your messages for Adora Faye will be inspected and read by jail authorities.

She would appreciate books and other publications, and she would need help for supplements  (Vitamin B Complex, Iron and Calcium supplements, and ASCOF Lagundi tablets) for her illnesses. Her son provided these details for monetary donations: https://bit.ly/FreeAdora