DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Human rights group Karapatan decried the continuous crackdown of the Duterte administration on human rights defenders and activists amid the health crisis it is facing.
“Human rights defenders have stood against the government’s efforts to violate people’s rights and civil liberties. They have worked with marginalized communities to assert their rights to health and other basic social services amid threats of militarization and violence from state forces,” said Karapatan Deputy Secretary General Roneo Clamor.
Karapatan expressed concern over the arrest of its Regional Council Member for Northern Mindanao Teresita Naul on March 15, 2020, at around 8:00 a.m. at her relative’s residence in Lala, Lanao del Norte and the vilification of Karapatan Southern Mindanao.
Military and police personnel arrested Naul for kidnapping and serious illegal detention, and destructive arson, which Karapatan described as trumped-up charges.
Last year, the Provincial Prosecutors Office of Bayugan City filed charges of kidnapping, arson, robbery and serious illegal detention against 468 individuals, including 78 known activists in Caraga and Northern Mindanao.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines alleged that they were involved in a military offensive by the New People’s Army against government troops that happened in November and December of 2018.
Before her arrest, Naul along with Karapatan Western Mindanao Chairperson, and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Antonio Ablon, and 15 other human rights activists and church workers were labeled as top-ranking officials, members, supporters, and organizers of the Communist Party of the Philippines in leaflets being distributed in Cagayan de Oro City.
Karapatan also expressed concern on a photo posted by Facebook page “Quiet No More PH” on March 1, tagging leaders and former members of Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region as New People’s Army (NPA).
“Amid COVID-19 threat in the country, Philippine government and its cabal of Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police has no let-up in terrorizing human rights workers and dissenters,” Karapatan SMR secretary-general Jay Apiag said in a separate statement. (davaotoday.com)