DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A human rights group on Tuesday slammed both the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police after they have gone on an arrest spree against political activists, peace consultants, development workers and civilians on trumped-up charges.
“President Duterte’s ‘cancellation’ of the formal peace talks of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has further emboldened State security forces to arrest and detain activists….in line with the counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said in a rally at Camp Crame Tuesday.
Palabay said that “instead of releasing political prisoners, the Duterte administration seems to be in a rampage to increase the number of individuals suffering from this kind of injustice.”
Karapatan said at least 19 activists and civilians were illegally arrested from Feb. 3 to 12. The group said that 15 of the arrested individuals are still detained including activists Ferdinand Castillo, 57, who was arrested in Caloocan City.
Castillo was arrested by the combined elements of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Intelligence Service Group Philippine Army, and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
He was blindfolded for almost four hours and was later brought to the PNP-CIDG office in Camp Crame, Quezon City. He is facing trumped-up charges of murder and attempted murder in RTC Branch 63 in Calauag, Quezon Province, according to the human rights group.
On Monday, Castillo’s wife, Nona Andaya-Castillo appealed to the military to release her husband the soonest because he is sickly.
“My husband was arrested yesterday. I am worried about his health condition. He has been on plant-based diet since 1995. He had gout, rheumatic heart disease, colon bleeding and suffered from a mild stroke twice. He has no maintenance drugs and his food is his medicine. I hope the military will release him soon for humanitarian reasons,” she wrote on Facebook.
Castillo is the campaign officer of Bayan Metro Manila, an alliance of Metro Manila-based people’s organizations.
Apart from Castillo, Rogina Quilop, 49, administrative officer of the Center for People’s Resources and Services was arrested last Feb. 7 in Bacolod City and presently detained Handumanan Female Dorm while Sarah Abellon-Alikes, a member of the Board of Directors of the Regional Development Center – Katinnulong Dagiti Umili ti Amianan was nabbed while she was on her way to Baguio City on Feb. 9. Alikes, a Kankanaey-Igorot, is a pioneer of the Cordillera People’s Alliance
Both Quilop and Alikes are development workers who, according to Karapatan, arrested on fabricated criminal offenses.
Palabay slammed also the arrest of Concha Araneta Bocala in Iloilo City on Feb.13 and NDFP consultant Ariel Arbitrario on Feb. 6 in Davao City, saying that the PNP and AFP violated the JASIG and the rights to due process of the NDFP consultants.
“The GRP and its State security forces should account for the continuing violations of JASIG and the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) despite clear provisions on the obligations and commitments of both Parties, especially the GRP, even if formal peace talks are suspended, cancelled or terminated,” she said.
On Feb. 11, after a skirmish between the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the New People’s Army in Sitio Tangis and Sitio Salutan, Brgy. Datal Anggas, Alabel in Sarangani Province, Palabay said the “the AFP launched an aerial bombing operation in the area, dropping a total of six bombs” in the said community.
“Around 100 families evacuated to the center of Brgy. Datal Anggas, while the military also arrested eight civilians were used as guides in their operations. They are still currently in the custody of the military, as the AFP troops remain encamped in the community,” Palabay said.
In a statement Tuesday, Lt Col Marion Angcao, Commander of Army’s 73 IB said that eight NPA rebels from Front 71 with high powered firearms and one NPA member surrendered to them after the clash in Sitio Tangis, Brgy Datal Anggas, Alabel, Sarangani Province.
“Part of our goal is to entice more NPA members to follow what their other comrades have done by turning themselves over to the government and embrace our offer of peace for the entire Filipino putting an absolute end to armed struggle and violence,” Angcao said.
The Army official said that the captured NPAs were now in the custody of Alabel PNP for subsequent filing of charges. (davaotoday.com)