FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement of Condemnation – ABI harassment
Nov. 14, 2016
REFERENCE: April Porteria
Research & Advocacy – Coordinator
IMMEDIATELY STOP RED-TAGGING & HARASSMENT OF HUMANITARIAN AND DISASTER REHABILITATION WORKERS!
The Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines denounces in the strongest terms the persisting harassment and surveillance of the Gawad Bayani ng Kalikasan Cooperating Organization, Alay Bayan-Luson Inc. (ABI) by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).
″ABI`s Typhoon Lawin relief operations that includes distribution of food, clothing and medical missions has been greatly delayed due to incessant stalking and persecution by the AFP. ″ said Lorena Villareal, Executive Director of ABI. She added that, ″armed men have been following us for several days as we scour communities affected by Lawin in Cagayan Valley and Nueva Vizcaya. ″
″This wasn`t the first time we have been under the AFP`s red-tagging and harassment tactics. ″ Villareal shared.
In 2012, a massive campaign seeking justice for Willem Geertman, former Executive Director of ABI, has been launched. He was targeted and killed by members of the AFP who barged into their office in Pampanga. ″For a long time, they have been accusing my organization as fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army supporters″ she added.
ABI members have concluded that the AFP has been spying on their daily operations, listing names and questioning their community members. It has also been spreading black propaganda about their organization all over Barangay Pelaway, Alfonso Castaneda and Nueva Vizcaya. The most recent episode happened last November 4, 2016 when a certain Lieutenant Cruz of the 7th Infantry Division in Tarlac phone-called one of the ABI staffs. The Lieutenant kept asking questions like ″Where are you located? ″ and ″What`s the scope of your office services? ″
Due to these alarming and illegitimate attacks by the AFP, ABI`s humanitarian work in depressed communities has been put on hold in order to keep everyone safe, thus denying assistance to various barangays and the indigenous Bugkalot community.
″Even under the new Duterte administration these provocations by the military remind ABI and other humanitarian groups that the AFP and the government are indifferent to the plight of disaster victims and those who want to help them. ″ Frances Quimpo, Executive Director of CEC, shares. ″It is upsetting to think that in the face of the Peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF), these military aggressions against communities and individuals still occur. ″
Quimpo concluded that just like what happened when Typhoon Yolanda hit Central Visayas; when the people were reeling in the effects of the tragic catastrophe, the Aquino administration sent plane-loads of Philippine and US Armed Forces instead of immediate relief. ″Despite the slowness and senseless delays of the government`s Yolanda relief operations, they are bent on militarizing & harassing communities.″ she added.
CEC together with ABI and other development organizations, condemn this continued harassment by the AFP on humanitarian groups.
We call on the Duterte administration to rein in and control its military arm and side with the oppressed and marginalized.
We demand the AFP to immediately stop its harassment towards ABI and other humanitarian organizations!
Scrap Oplan Bayanihan! Stop harassment of development workers!###
Center for Environmental Concerns – Philippines
26 Matulungin Street, Barangay Central, Diliman, Quezon City 1100
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