Press release

Terror tag still hounds rights defenders even as court cuts down list to two individuals

“Despite the recent court decision cutting down the names of those included in the Justice Department’s proscription petition from more than 600 names to 8, then finally down to 2 individuals, rights defenders and political dissenters initially included remain vulnerable to attacks. This is not a reprieve. So long as the proscription case remains, it will be further fuel and justify the government’s obsession to crackdown on progressive groups. In light of the proposed amendments to the Human Security Act of 2007, or Anti-Terror Law, we cannot stress enough how dangerous this petition is in the hands of a fascist maniac like Duterte,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay.

Karapatan on the arrest and detention of Rappler’s Maria Ressa

The arrest of journalist Maria Ressa and the absurd charges against her and online news site Rappler are all about freedom of expression in the Philippines.

It is indicative of a vindictive government which is intent on dominating all forms of media with its own twisted narratives, while simultaneously cutting off any platform for others to express alternative opinions. Evidence-based findings that prove critical to the anti-people campaigns of the regime are shut down while fake news and deliberate lies are massively peddled by state-backed keyboard warriors.

Military, police should be investigated for torture allegations of suspect in Jolo church blast

On Friday, February 8, 2019, the lawyer of Mukammar Pae, the alleged Jolo church blast suspect, asserted that his client was innocent and was tortured by the police to admit to the crime. Lawyer Meltoni Sibulan further refuted the police in the latter’s claim that Pae and three other men “surrendered” to them. According to Sibulan, Pae and his three other companions were tree cutters and lumberyard workers who wanted to clear their name. The victims presented themselves to the 35th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA), after which they were turned over to the police. Immediately after, Pae was illegally arrested, tortured and detained. Sibulan added that his client was subjected to waterboarding.

Proposed amendments to anti-terror law will place PH under martial law

“Amending the Human Security Act of 2007, or the anti-terror law, in accordance to the Duterte government’s agenda will place the entire Philippines under martial law. This as much was admitted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, when he said that they can do away with martial law in Mindanao if Congress will enact the proposed measures,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, as the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs endorsed its committee report to the Senate plenary yesterday.

Karapatan wary of series of harassment involving church workers and local leaders, says this is a prelude to killings

“Nobody is safe in this country, not even those in the church sector and communities. We now live at a time when men in motorcycles immediately spark fear and suspicion, as they have been used in numerous killings. In the first few months this 2019, we have received frequent reports of threats and harassment, many involving priests. This comes after several extrajudicial killings of Catholic priests in 2018, the incessant vandalisms around the vicinity of churches, and the recent “challenge” given by the President to inflict harm on bishops, among other church workers. Thus, harassment and intimidation in all its forms, given this particular context, is a cause for alarm,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, emphasizing that harassment and threats are often a prelude to killings. 

Karapatan condemns PNP’s harassment vs Malayao’s sister, supporters

“For the nth time, the Philippine National Police is once again deflecting accountability on the killing of peace consultant Randy Malayao. Instead of working swiftly to resolve this case given the sketch and the CCTV footage, the police slanders Malayao and files absurd charges against his sister, lawyer Atty. Edu Balgos and his wife, Rina Balgos. The Balgoses assisted Malayao’s family in claiming his belongings. The police officers yielded precisely because it is within the right of Malayao’s family to obtain possession of his personal effects. The police knew they were not in any position to withhold these items,”  said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay on recent statements of the PNP on Malayao’s case.

Karapatan calls for the dismissal of trumped-up charges vs trade union organizers Maojo Maga and Juan Alexander Reyes

“Trade unionists are under attack. With the onslaught of neoliberal policies that unilaterally favor companies and business tycoons, their profits come at the expense of workers’ rights. Legitimate initiatives of workers to assert their rights and welfare have been hampered by a string of anti-worker schemes such as contractualization and union busting. Meanwhile, trade unionists and organizers among workers have been subjected to illegal arrests, trumped-up charges, among other forms of human rights violations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, particularly citing the cases of Marklen Maojo Maga and Juan Alexander Reyes. On February 6, 2019, hearings will be held on Maga and Reyes’ case in San Mateo, Rizal and Quezon City, respectively. 

PNP Region II’s malicious, unsubstantiated statements deflect State accountability on the killing of Malayao

“There is now a barrage of malicious and false allegations hurled against peace consultant Randy Malayao. Attacking a dead person to justify his killing is the odious handiwork of Malayao’s murderers and their protectors. Instead of focusing on an impartial investigation, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has been busying itself with circulating baseless, unsubstantiated, and malicious rumors about Malayao and creating intrigue on his death. The police have become akin to a deranged paparazzis in uniform, resulting from the State actors’ paranoia of being discovered as the perpetrators. Perhaps no one can play as dirty and as downright callous as the Duterte regime and its gamut of paid mercenaries and propaganda machine,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, in response to the accusations of the Philippine National Police Region II against Malayao.

Karapatan deplores pattern of killings, arrests of civilians abducted by military or police in Mindanao this January 2019

“There is now an ongoing trend of activists going missing, only to be later located in military camps or police stations or worse, dead. After abducting these individuals, the military and the police then spin ludicrous stories that they are either surrenderees or members of the New People’s Army (NPA), or their abduction already ‘cured’ by trumped-up criminal charges. Those who have been killed by suspected State forces are claimed to have been fatalities during armed encounters – another fantastic permutation of the worn-out ‘nanlaban’ narrative. It’s one outrageous lie after the other,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay, citing recent cases of human rights violations in Mindanao. 

PNP blame-game on Malayao’s killing seeks to shield State forces from accountability - Karapatan

“As in many other cases of state-sponsored killing, the government whips up some fantastic theory, expressed through contradictory statements and devoid of any evidence, that uses the NPA or some other scapegoat to evade accountability of its State forces and justify more draconian measures,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay in response to the statement of Chief Supt. Mario Espino of Philippine National Police Region 2 tagging the New People’s Army in the recent killing of peace consultant Randy Felix Malayao.

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