DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The human rights group Karapatan welcomed the Supreme Court’s issuance of writ of amparo and habeas data in favor of rights groups, which have been accused as “communist fronts” by the military.
The Karapatan, Gabriela, and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) filed the petition on May 6 before the SC for a writ of amparo and habeas data, in response to what they described as “worsening” attacks against human rights defenders, citing incidents of threats, red-tagging and attacks against their members and officers.
Last week, May 24, the High Court granted protection to the three organizations.
“There has been no respite in the military and the government’s attacks against our organization and other human rights defenders and activists, but this is a much welcome development,” Karapatan National Chairperson Elisa Tita Lubi said in a statement on Thursday.
Respondents of the petition including President Rodrigo Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Brig. Gen. Fernando Trinidad, Maj. Gen. Erwin Neri, Lt. Gen. Macairog Sabiniano Alberto, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Director Gen. Alex Paul Monteagudo, Deputy Dir. Gen. Vicente Agdamag, Senior Supt. Omega Jireh Fidel, Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Executive Director Jole Sy Egco, Undersecretary Severo Catura, and PCOO Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy were required to make a return of the writ before the Court of Appeals on or before June 13.
Lubi added: “We are aware that this is just the beginning of an arduous battle, but we take courage from all the human rights defenders who withstood the worst of this repressive government, and all those who have been killed in the cause for human rights. The Duterte administration has poured effort, resources and time into undermining our work but unfortunately for them, we will always assert our right to continue human rights advocacy. As they attack us from all fronts, we fight back in the same persistent and determined manner.”
In their recent petition, Karapatan cited various incidents of attacks against human rights workers, including extrajudicial killings, trumped-up charges, death threats, malicious posters and banners against the organization and members hanged in public places, pronouncement of military officials referring to the group as communist front, and public speeches of President Rodrigo Duterte red-tagging rights groups.
“This favorable decision by the Supreme Court comes at a crucial time. The Court has seen the merit of our petition, and we see this as an acknowledgment of the perilous environment that human rights defenders work in. We reiterate that activism and the full exercise of our civil and political rights is not a crime. While we continue with our everyday human rights work, we are also resolute in our commitment to see this through. This is a reminder to the government that sectors and defenders under attack, despite the orchestrated bullying, will find ways to demand and exact accountability. To the respondents, see you in court,” Palabay said. (davaotoday.com)