SURIGAO CITY – A leader of an indigenous people’s group arrested by government agents earlier today said he was “never in hiding” and that he is not “guilty” of the charges filed against him.
Genasque Enriquez, 41, secretary-general of Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon (Kasalo) in Caraga region, said he “was active in campaigns to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples and the environment.”
“I even attended this press conference and I am active most recently in relief missions for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan),” said Enriquez in an interview with Davao Today together with his lawyers in the Criminal Investigation Detection Group detention center in Surigao City.
Human rights group, Karapatan-Caraga, said Enriquez was arrested 1:00 pm at Dale’s Food House in Rizal St, Surigao City by joint forces of the Philippine National Police, the CIDG and the Army’s 30th Infantry Battalion.
In a fact sheet sent to Davao Today, Karapatan-Caraga said Enriquez was arrested “by virtue of an “alias warrant of arrest” issued against him in March 25, 2013 by the Regional Trial Court Branch 28 of Lianga, Surigao del Sur.” The warrant only named Enriquez in an alias.
Atty. Jose Begil, Jr, one of Enriquez’s lawyers said “there is no other objective of his (Enriquez) arrest but to silence him as a spokesperson of the indigenous people.”
Begil said that Enriquez was charged with three counts of frustrated murder with a P200,000 bail on each case under the 11th Judicial Region Branch 28 of Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
“The cases filed against him were too many for us to monitor but he was not in hiding,” said Begil adding that “Enriquez was even actively campaigning during the election as he was the second nominee for the Katribu partylist.”
Meanwhile, Dulphing Ogan, secretary of Kalumaran, a Mindanao indigenous people’s alliance said the arrest of Enriquez “smacks of fabricated criminal charges from a government that wants to silence a staunch anti-mining and anti-Oplan Bayanihan critic.”
Ogan said Enriquez is a member of the Kalumaran Executive Committee and “has been outspoken against several large scale mining operation in the Caraga region as these violate indigenous peoples’ human rights especially the right to their ancestral domains”.
He said that “previous false charges against him have been dismissed for lack of cause.”
“Suddenly a frustrated murder charge which was purportedly committed by him in 2013 in Lianga, Surigao del Sur sprang up to ensure his imprisonment,” said Ogan.
Ogan said Enriquez’s most recent engagement was to facilitate the visit of a delegation of Filipino-Americans who “were looking into human rights violations of big mining companies and the armed forces in the Caraga region early this month.”
Ogan said Enriquez “spoke about his struggles against trumped up charges and the threats against his life and his tribe, on August 9, International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.” (Earl O. Condeza/davaotoday.com)