Dear friends,

Please find below the links to and inline texts of the statements of Karapatan and ASCENT on Duterte’s looming crackdown on progressive groups and trumped up charges against activists, both were issued this morning.

Karapatan statement:
http://karapatan.org/Karapatan+hits+Duterte%E2%80%99s+looming+crackdown+of+progressive+groups%2C+trumped+up+charges+vs+activists

ASCENT statement:
https://ascentph.wordpress.com/2017/11/19/rights-network-condemns-illegal-arrest-of-its-consultant-staff-on-trumped-up-charges-by-police-military/

Thank you very much.

Karapatan Public Information Desk

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Press Statement | November 20, 2017

Reference: Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

Karapatan hits Duterte’s looming crackdown of progressive groups, trumped up charges vs activists

“In the mind of fascists like Duterte, any and all forms of just and legitimate opposition to his anti-people policies are all spun like the wildest conspiracy theories. His threat to crack down on Bayan and other progressive groups, with the twisted logic that they are an anathema to development and are conspiring with the Communist Party of the Philippines, is a tired and unoriginal repetition of the same plot weaved by known fascists like Marcos. Using the same pretext and adapting tricks from the same playbook of fascists, such moves will possibly be appropriated to justify nationwide martial law and intensified repression against the Filipino people,” stated Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay in reaction to Duterte’s statement last Saturday, November 18.

Karapatan said that all this is unsurprising, especially after US President Donald Trump’s visit, Duterte is now shamelessly parroting US declarations and is even planning to list the New People’s Army as a terrorist group. “Duterte’s cozy relationship with the US and his contempt for just and lasting peace drive such statements, for he very well knows that issues concerning international humanitarian law can be addressed in peace process mechanisms. As Duterte cements his ‘friendship’ with the US, he has also openly declared himself a puppet who favors militarism and interventionist policies,” Palabay said.

The Karapatan leader said that “progressive groups like Bayan have long fought for the basic political and economic rights of the people. Protests and dissent are in fact helpful in pushing for reforms and changes in Philippine society.” She added that “Duterte himself is to be blamed for the economic programs that further increase unemployment and under-employment, and landlessness of farmers; He is to blame for his war on drugs, a program that diminishes human dignity and disregards the social and economic causes of the illegal drug trade. Ultimately, it is his policies and the over-all direction of his regime that further justify the need for protest and resistance.”

Duterte also said on Saturday that he won’t recognize the offense of rebellion in charging alleged members of the NPA. Instead, criminal charges, which are not bailable, will be filed against them.

“Duterte and all the previous administrations have long been in the business of filing trumped up criminal charges against those whom they allege as armed rebels. However, all they have accomplished is the unjust arrest and detention of activists and ordinary folks who have been subjected to torture and other forms of violations on their right to due process and to a fair trial. This is the reason why almost 98% of political prisoners are charged with common crimes,” Palabay commented.

Karapatan cited the October 19 illegal arrest and detention of Jeremy Ang, a senior consultant of a non-government organization Assert Socio Economic Initiatives Network of the Philippines (Ascent) and his staff Rita C. Espinoza in Kabankalan, Negros Occidental by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP). Ascent is a non-government organization advocating for the defense of socio-economic initiatives of the people. Ascent and its network of NGOs have pushed with their advocacy amid the series of attacks against their work by alleged state security forces.

“The same trumped up charges against Ang were brought against Lumad farmers Joshua, Randy and Jonathan Guyo, all members of the NAMASUN-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas in Carage region. Jonathan is also a Karapatan paralegal. The Duterte government rehashes absurd criminal charges against persons whom the state considers its enemies. Especially with the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA), the crackdown on leaders and members of legal progressive organizations is only bound to intensify,” Palabay concluded.

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Rights network condemns illegal arrest of its Consultant, Staff on trumped-up charges by police, military

The Assert Socio Economic Initiatives Network of the Philippines (ASCENT) vehemently condemns the illegal arrest and detention of its Convenor and Senior Consultant Jeremy G. Ang and his staff Rita C. Espinoza by elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP).

ASCENT is a non-government organization advocating for economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) or the right to development. It was primarily established to campaign for the defense of socio-economic initiatives of people and its member NGOs, amidst the series of attacks against them by alleged state security forces. Among the programs of its member organizations include: humanitarian aid, sustainable agriculture, appropriate technology, cooperatives, schools for indigenous peoples, health services, and community-based disaster risk management. ASCENT also provides technical assistance in the conceptualization of socio-economic projects for people’s organizations.

ASCENT had assembled a team including Ang and Espinoza to provide assistance to NFSW in its campaign for higher wages and better working conditions for the sugar plantation workers. They were also able to identify, design, and plan productive and economic activities for the NFSW members. Knowing the importance of consultations and working with the affected sugar workers, the team stayed in an NFSW area in La Carlota, Negros Occidental for community discussions on current issues affecting sugar workers from October 14-15. Post consultation activities ensued up to October 17.

On October 19, at around 12:45pm, the ASCENT team stopped by Tingting’s Native Restaurant in Kabankalan to have their lunch. Upon leaving the restaurant Ang and Espinoza were forcibly boarded in separate vehicles, handcuffed and blindfolded by around 10 elements of the CIDG-PNP and ISAFP. Their companion, a development management consultant lost grip of Ang’s arm when one of the CIDG operatives pointed a gun on her face and ordered her to lie down on her stomach. All their personal belongings were also taken away from their vehicle.

Ang and Espinoza were not shown any warrant of arrest and their lawyer was not allowed to see them on the day that they were arrested and detained at the Police Regional Office-Negros Island Region at Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod City. Ang was then solitarily confined in a small cell while Espinoza was handcuffed inside a room.

On October 21, their lawyers, Atty. Cesar Biloria and Atty. Maria Sol Taule were able to confer with them for only 30 minutes. The CIDG did not give them copies of the alleged warrants of arrest claiming that they do not have these in their possession.

Both lawyers told the CIDG that they should be informed of the inquest proceedings. However, at about 4:00pm on that day, the victims were brought to Kabankalan for their inquest proceedings. And at about 11:00 pm, they were again moved out of Camp Montelibano. They were transferred to Camp Crame in Quezon City. All these were done without their lawyers’ knowledge.

According to Renmin Vizconde, spokesperson of ASCENT, “it is ironic that those who opt to help the poor and impoverished through consultative and participatory methods and are not limited to air conditioned offices are the ones whose rights are being blatantly being violated.”

Among the cases of attacks against development and humanitarian workers include the killings of Willem Geertman, Executive Director of Alay Bayan Luson (ABI-Luson); Emerito Samarca, Executive Director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV); Romeo Capalla, Chairman of the Board of the Panay Fair Trade Center (PFTC); and numerous cases of harassment, vilification, threats, and red-tagging of the staff and projects of ASCENT’s member organizations.

In 2011, Rogina Quilop, who was then the Administrative Officer of the Center for People’s Resources and Services, an NGO based in Bacolod City, was also illegally arrested by the CIDG for an alleged arson case. She was incarcerated for more than 4 months before being released on bail, and the case was later dismissed.

“Jeremy Ang has been a staff of ASCENT since its establishment. Together with Espinoza, they have since been conducting consultations with our member organizations, in order to lend their expertise on the advancement of socio-economic projects in various regions. Their knowledge, skills, and years of experience on development work have become invaluable in our advocacy of promoting economic, social, and cultural rights.”, added Vizconde.

“Ang and Espinoza’s illegal arrest and continued detention at Camp Crame are blatant violations against their rights. We therefore call for their immediate release. The military and police must be held accountable for the human rights atrocities they continually commit against development workers and red-tagging of development projects!”, concluded Vizconde.

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PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
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Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts., Central District
Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org/

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.