DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Human rights advocates and activists in Davao City on Thursday, Nov. 27, opened their offices for inspection by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and media to further prove their legitimacy as progressive organizations.
Upon the request of the groups, a team from CHR-Region 11 visited the regional offices of Alliance of Concerned Teachers, Kilusang Mayo Uno, Makabayan Coalition, and the evacuation camp of Lumad evacuees in UCCP Haran.
“We let the CHR’s regional counterpart to personally see that we don’t keep bombs, firearms and ammunition, like the charges being filed by authorities against activists and human rights defenders,” Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region secretary general Jay Apiag told reporters.
They replicated the initiatives made by fellow activists in Manila to have their offices inspected by the CHR, amid threats of crackdown, raids of offices of progressive organizations that resulted in “trumped up charges” filed against progressive leaders based on what they claim are planted evidence such as firearms and explosives.
Earlier this month, a series of police raids were done to the offices of progressive groups in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental.
The raids were based on search warrants issued by Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC RTC) Branch 89 Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert. In these raids firearms and explosives were reportedly planted to justify the arrest of several activists.
Karapatan received reports that at least six similar warrants issued by the same judge are still pending.
Apiag attributed these attacks against activists to President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order 70, which created the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
With the Martial Law still in place, Apiag said that similar incidents against activists and human rights defenders could also possibly happen here in Mindanao.
“We saw how the government is weaponizing the courts and laws to suppress the participation of Filipinos in airing their concerns,” Apiag said.
Through the inspection, Apiag said, they want to let the public know that their organizations are legitimate ones and that the claims of the police that they are aiding the armed rebellion and stocking weapons in their offices are absurd.
Meanwhile,the CHR-11 is expected to submit a report of their visit of these offices to their central office.(davaotoday.com)