Youth party slams surveillance, crackdown on legal activists due to ‘all-out war’

Friday, February 17, 2017

KABATAAN Partylist is aghast at the ongoing military ‘crackdown’ on activists and members of legal, democratic and progressive organizations. Just recently, Kabataan Partylist has been the target of several surveillance operations on the party and its officers.

A week earlier, a man identified as Brig. Gen. Noel Buan was reportedly touring offices of Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago and other representatives of progressive partylists, while looking for a “Cong. Tinio” (likely referring to Cong. Antonio Tinio, representative of ACT Teachers Partylist), saying he thought “iisa lang ang Kabataan partylist at ang partylist ni Cong. Tinio (Kabataan and Cong. Tinio’s partylist are the same).”

Buan is a Medal of Valor awardee, a current officer for Reservist and Retiree Affairs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and was a former Intelligence officer when he was held prisoner of war during 1999 to 2001.

Similar cases of surveillance were also reported during the same day. National officers of Kabataan and other mass organizations were being followed by a blue Toyota Wigo vehicle during the Rise for Education assembly in Diliman, Quezon City.

Later that day, A car with a PNP plate was parked for around 10 minutes, in front of the Kabataan headquarters, before proceeding to enter the garage in a nearby house.

“We condemn the increasing threats and human rights violations to our leaders and the people. This latest attack only shows how the President’s declaration of an all-out war has led to heightened militarization and swelling rights abuses, especially in legal organizations not covered by the armed insurgency.

“Further, this is how AFP’s new program Oplan Kapayapaan, a mere rehash of their previous counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, have only caused people more harm and discord than peace and development,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said.

Since President Duterte’s declaration of ‘all-out war’, numerous violations and attacks have already been committed by military and police agents against activists, urban leaders and civilians across various provinces and regions.

On February 12, Ferdinand Castillo, BAYAN Metro Manila officer, was illegally arrested at Caloocan City by combined elements of CIDG NCR, ISG Phil. Army and ISAFP. He was brought to the PNP-CIDG office at Camp Crame, Quezon City, where an arrest warrant for trumped up charges of murder and attempted murder was shown to him.

Among others illegally detained and arrested in the past week were NGO workers Rogina Quilop in Bacolod City, Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Promencio Cortez, and Marciano Sagun in Itogon, Benguet and Jacinto Faroden in La Trinidad, Benguet and Gabriela member Edison Villanueva in Sta. Cruz, Mindoro Occidental.

“We call on President Duterte to immediately rein in and temper his state forces, stop the all-out war and the crackdowns on our people and communities,” Elago said.

“To boot, we urge the President to resume peace talks and follow through on its significant advances, particularly in the substantive agenda on socio-economic reforms pivotal to addressing the roots of armed conflict,” Elago added. ###