DAVAO CITY, Philippines (Updated as of 5:52 pm March 27) — The secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan here said she has been subjected to a series of threats and harassment by suspected military agents because of her involvement with the leftist organization.
During Monday’s Kapehan sa Davao press conference, Sheena Duazo narrated that she received text messages from someone who identified himself as a member of the military intelligence of the 10th Infantry Division.
“He told me that I should cooperate and that he will help me. He told me that my name is already in the OB (order of battle) list of the AFP,” she said.
“Why should I cooperate? What have I done wrong? I am an activist and I call for peace and social justice in our society,” she said.
On February 21, Duazo said a certain military staff sergeant of the 10th ID went to their residence and talked to her.
“He wants me to sign a document in their office, which proves that I am cooperating with them already,” she said, adding that the man assured her that signing the document will save her life.
Duazo did not name the military official who also asked her about her involvement with the New People’s Army, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Three days later, Duazo noted that she observed men taking her pictures after a peace rally held along Roxas Street here on February 24.
She said after the activity, some of their staff reported of hearing a man talking to someone on the phone saying “Sir confirmed, naa diri si Sheena Duazo, nakuhaan og picture (Sir confirmed, Sheena Duazo is here, we have her pictures).”
Duazo said the incident on February 24 also confirms the discussion she had with the alleged military man who told her that she is being monitored.
“I was told that I should not leave Davao City, because if I do, I will suffer the fate of my ‘comrade’ Ariel Arbitrario who was arrested in Sirawan, Toril,” she said.
Arbitrario is a political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines who was arrested in a military checkpoint on February 6 following the orders of President Rodrigo Duterte to rearrest freed communist leaders who participated in the peace talks.
The military said the arrest of Arbitrario was due to the circumstance that he is traveling with a person who has a standing warrant for murder. The court later foundno sufficient evidence against labor organizer Roderick Mamuyac, who was suspected as a liaison officer of the NPA.
Duazo said the “red-tagging” against activists legitimizes the threats and harassments against them.
“There is a pattern that we see from these incidents. The cases of political killings we documented included surveillance and harassment against the victims,” she said.
Duazo said the “pattern of impunity” has been going on even before the Duterte administration.
Asked to comment, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division spokesman Capt. Rhyan Batchar said they do not condone the abuses done by soldiers. He said Duazo should file a formal complaint before proper authorities.
“We will look into this report. We encourage her to go beyond mere propaganda and file a formal complaint to the proper authorities. We do not condone any violation of human rights by our soldiers,” Batchar told Davao Today on Tuesday, Mar. 28.
Rius Valle, spokesperson of Save Our Schools Network, also said Salugpongan Community Learning Center executive director Ronie Garcia and his companions were held by alleged soldiers when they crossed Barangay Sto. Niño in Talaingod town, Davao del Norte when on March 24.
Valle said Garcia has just attended the moving up ceremony of students in their school in Barangay Palma Gil, Talaingod when the incident happened.
“The men were looking for Sir Ronie Garcia, but his group denied that he was around to keep him safe from the suspects,” Valle said.
He said the teacher has already been subjected to harassment of suspected state agentsin the past two months.
“His case is among the cases of continuing attacks on schools by state agents as reported by Save Our Schools Network,” Valle said.
Valle also showed photos of suspected military agents who are tailing teachers.
“From February to March this year we have recorded three accounts of surveillance and harassment,” he said, adding that the suspects, mostly riding in tandem and wearing bonnets, tail teachers to and from their office in Tagum City.
The Network has already recorded 87 cases of harassment of teachers, military encampment in school premises and vilification since June 2016.
Valle told Davao Today that the Salugpongan schools were now numbering to 40 in Compostela Valley Province, Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental.
Duazo said they plan to file their reports to the Joint Monitoring Committee tasked to monitor human rights violations between the government and communists. The fourth round of talks is schedule on April 2 to 6 in the Netherlands. (davaotoday.com)