DAVAO CITY – Human rights group Karapatan criticized government security elements for attempting to pull out and arrest its staff member during a protest caravan here on Thursday by alleging her as a New People’s Army leader.
Karapatan’s Hanimay Suazo said elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) tried to arrest a female human rights worker based in Compostela Valley, and who they identified only as ‘Ana’ to protect her identity.
The incident happened on Thursday noon when the group accompanied a contingent of farmers from Maco and Mawab towns of Compostela Valley to hold a rally outside the gate of the headquarters of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan on the one year death anniversary of a boy allegedly killed in a military operation.
Ana told Davao Today that the contingent was stopped along Barangay Lasang by police and highway patrol members. As Karapatan members were negotiating with the police, elements of the CIDG approached Ana and handed her a warrant of arrest and told her to go with them to the CIDG.
Surprised, Ana demanded that she read the warrant, and found out that it contained names and aliases of people accused of murder, but could not find her name on it.
The warrant was allegedly against members of the NPA Front Committee 18 leaders.
“I refused to go with the CIDG,” Ana said. “My name was not there, but they insisted I was this alias ‘Evelyn’. They did not even bother to ask for my name or my identification.”
A news footage later that day showed a CIDG personnel bringing out a man who covered his face with a towel, and pointed at people in the caravan as NPA members. The CIDG claimed the man was a rebel returnee.
The intervention of other human rights workers and Bayan spokesperson Sheena Duazo stopped the CIDG from making the arrest. The police also relented and the protesters proceeded with their rally outside the Eastmincom and went home hours later.
Ana was incensed that the CIDG did not apologize to the people they caused trouble.
“They just told me to just cooperate to avoid any incident. But I told them are you doing your job well?”
Suazo said the CIDG’s move may have been meant to disrupt or at least delay their rally.
She described it as “erroneous arrests” and expressed fear that this may be part of a crackdown on activists and human rights defenders.
She said that government crackdown has tagged activists as communists and had led to arrests or assassinations.
“This could form part of the next phase of Oplan Bayanihan. Here you see the police, CIDG and law enforcers actively attacking human rights defenders and activists to silence them by filing fabricated charges,” Suazo said. (davaotoday.com)