SELDA hits Duterte admin on "ridiculous" charges against rights workers

Former political prisoners under the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) hit the Duterte administration after charging two officials of human rights alliance Karapatan with attempted murder.

Karapatan national chairperson and former SELDA national board member Elisa Lubi and Karapatan – Southern Mindanao Region's secretary general Jayvee “Jay” Apiag are charged with attempted murder by Corporal Elvin Jay Claud, in connection with an alleged armed encounter between elements of the New People’s Army and the Philippine Army’s 89th Infantry Battalion and 10th Infantry Division in Sitio Balite, Brgy. Salapawan, Paquibato District, Davao City on May 20, 2018. The case was only filed on June 3, 2020 — two years after the alleged encounter.

In Claud's sworn statement, his unit was conducting a combat operation when they were ambushed allegedly by an "undetermined number of communist terrorist groups." Despite taking cover and exchanging fires with the alleged rebels, he supposedly identified Lubi and Apiag among the alleged rebels.

Danilo dela Fuente, SELDA spokesperson, said that the charges against the said human rights advocates is “a Marcosian tactic in desperately covering up its bloody track by painting critics and human rights workers as criminals or terrorists."

"The Duterte administration has clearly lost its logical sense and is now continuously spinning its yarn of tall tales in its futile attempt to whitewash its incompetence and fascism. Both Lubi and Apiag are staunch human rights advocates – not terrorists nor criminals. It is impossible for these two to be in a military encounter, contrary to what Claud said in his sworn statement. Also, why the long wait if he is certain in identifying the two? Did it take two years for him to be 'certain'? This is utterly ridiculous," de la Fuente stressed.

Apiag manifested in his motion that he was with the kins of Ariel Maquiran, a victim of extra-judicial killing, at Brgy. Madaum, Tagum City, Davao del Norte at the time of the alleged. encounter. Meanwhile, Lubi manifested in her motion that it is "physically implausible for [her] to engage in an armed combat” for she was “75 turning 76 years old, and suffering from the usual ailments of elderly people such as hypertension, and arthritis.

"The case of Lubi and Apiag is just one in a long string of trumped up cases and malicious accusations against human rights advocates. Through the AFP, PNP, and NTF-ELCAC, this administration further worsens the state of human rights in the country and endangers innocent lives through malicious red-tagging and fabricated charges. This is nothing short of a pathetic, futile attempt to stop human rights workers in defending people's rights and exposing this Marcosian regime's unquenchable thirst for blood and power," Dela Fuente added.

"We, as former victims of political persecution, stand with Lubi, Apiag, and all human rights workers who are facing constant red-tagging and judicial harassment. We also call on everyone to continue in exposing this fascist regime's malicious lies and schemes," the SELDA official ended.