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Karapatan expresses outrage over arrest of NGO worker in Aquino government hitlist

The attacks on development workers and activists, through what rights groups call a hitlist of the Aquino regime, continue when Dominiciano Muya, staff/agriculturist of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines in Northern Mindanao (RMP-NMR), was arrested on October 16 in Tagum City.

“Muya is the latest victim of the Department of National Defense-Department of Interior and Local Government (DND-DILG) hit list, with Php 4.8 million reward on his head. The list contains names of persons who are arbitrarily charged with fabricated criminal charges, violating their right to due process and with the military profiting from the monetary rewards for their arrest. This has to stop,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan.

On October 1, Lourdes Quioc and Reynaldo Ingal were arrested using a warrant of arrest for “Eugenia Magpantay” and “Agaton Topacio”. “Magpantay” and “Topacio” are also in the wanted list with Php5.6 million and Php 5 million each on their heads.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) alleged that Muya was a former staff of the CPP/NPA Northern Mindanao region, former Secretary of Guerrilla Front 18, Southern Mindanao Regional Party Committee.

Karapatan said Muya, a staff for the RMP’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, is also a consultant of the Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Learning Center (STTILC), a community-based school for Lumad children, which the RMP had established. The institution is one of the groups in Mindanao that establish schools especially for the Lumad. According to the RMP, Muya is an agriculturist with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture major in Soil Science at the University of Southern Mindanao.

On October 16, Muya was on his way back home in Brgy. Mankilam, Tagum City after canvassing materials for the construction of an STTILC school, when soldiers from the 10th Infantry Division (ID) with long firearms, who were 30 meters away from his house, asked if he was Dominiciano Muya. The soldiers removed Muya’s helmet, pulled him out from his motorcycle and brought him to a vehicle where he was blindfolded. The soldiers took his cellular phones and the P40,000 for the materials for the school construction.

During the course of the soldiers’ interrogation, Muya realized he was under surveillance for quite some time. In the vehicle, which Muya noticed was only going in circles, the soldiers asked what he was doing in a festival in Talaingod, why he was in Arakan, and other details of his activities on the rehabilitation efforts for typhoon Pablo survivors.

“The authorities know for a fact that Muya is really helping Lumad communities to raise themselves from disasters and helping children in their education. RMP’s efforts are among the people’s response to the BS Aquino government’s continuing neglect of indigenous peoples in Mindanao. It is bad enough to be neglected by your own government, but it is worse to be sanctioned by your own government for trying to fill in for its failures,” stated Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan.

Capt. Sonza of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) showed Muya a copy of warrant of arrest for charges of multiple murder and frustrated murder. Also at the Davao City CIDG, a soldier of the 10th Infantry Division who introduced himself as the Civil Relations Officer wanted to get more information from Muya on the STTILC. Later, he was brought to the Malaybalay City Regional Trial Court, and then to the Bureau of Jail and Management and Penology (BJMP).

In 2012, many schoolhouses were destroyed by typhoon Pablo. The residents are now reconstructing the buildings and their homes with the help of several people’s organizations, including RMP-NMR.

Karapatan said that schools, however, are being subjected to attacks by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, using them as detachment or places of encampment and in red tagging people-initiated schools in Lumad communities as “NPA schools.” The group has documented 143,569 victims of the military’s use of schools, medical, religious and other public places for military purposes.

“With the RMP, we demand for the immediate release of Muya and let him continue his work for the Lumad children and their families. Those doing good for the poor are imprisoned and tagged as members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA),” said Palabay.

Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
Secretary General

Angge Santos
Media Liaison

[email protected]

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Building
#1 Maaralin corner Matatag Streets
Central District, Diliman
Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146

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. 

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