Political persecution of human rights defenders must end

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance condemns the continuing political persecution of human rights defenders under Oplan Bayanihan.

On 26 February 2014, posters with the heading “Rupa Ken Nagan ti NPA nga Agsusuweldo”  (Faces and Names of the New Peoples Army (NPA) Receiving Salaries) were mounted in markets and waiting sheds in different municipalities of Ifugao by State security forces and their agents.

Unjustly tagged as enemies of the people are Cordillera Human Rights Alliance (CHRA) Secretary General Jude Baggo, Katribu National Chairperson Beverly Longid, Cordillera Peoples Alliance regional staff member Emerson Soriano, Makabayan leaders Liza Masa, Teddy Casino and Satur Ocampo, National Democratic Front of the Philippines Peace Negotiator Luis Jalandoni  and Chief Political Consultant Jose Maria Sison. Under the photograph of CHRA Secretary General Jude Baggo are the words“NPA BRAIN”, his name and “HUNGDUAN” ( the Ifugao Municipality that he hails from).  The poster stated as well that the  Ifugao Research and Development Center (IRDC) was the house of the NPA in Lagawe. The poster wrongfully accused the people above as troublemakers and that they enjoy a good life from illegitimate means.  In bold letters at the bottom of this material was a warning, “WATCH OUT NPA SYMPATHIZERS AND SUPPORTERS!  THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND LAST WARNING!  WE THE UMILI ARE SICK AND TIRED OF YOU!”.   A certain group “Ifugao People’s Council” is signatory to the poster.

Why do we point to the State, its security forces and their agents as accountable for this?

This is not the first time that this was done.

In October 2012, a Target List in Tinoc, Ifugao of the 86th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army, and the 5th Infantry Division of the Armed Forces of the Philippines classified Baggo as “Utak ng NPA” (brains of the New People’s Army). Baggo was subjected to surveillance, threats and incidents of harassment as well as the 27 others in the list which includes development workers, and members and leaders of people’s organizations. One even became a victim of illegal detention and torture in the same year.

These acts of red-tagging or political vilification are cheap attempts to cow human rights defenders into silence and paralyze their effective work of serving the people.

These are also measures to wrongfully condition the people into thinking that activism and political dissent are illegitimate. This would serve as a premise to justify other human rights violations that may be perpetrated against the people named and other leaders and members of their organizations.

The funds for this smear campaign and the whole policy under which it is being implemented, Oplan Bayanihan, come from the nation’s coffers and are being used by the Aquino government against the people.

The Cordillera Human Rights Alliance reiterates our demand that the Aquino government and its State security forces should put a stop to the political vilification of human rights defenders and political dissenters. No person’s rights should be violated because of one’s involvement in the defense and assertion of human dignity.

We call for an end to Oplan Bayanihan — the policy that has definitely not resulted to peace and development but has instead resulted to a condemnable record of human rights violations.

For reference:
Atty. Jennifer Asuncion
Vice Chairperson
Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
Mobile number:  +639198286247

Cordillera Human Rights Alliance
55 Ferguson Road, Baguio City, Philippines
telefax: +63. 74. 443. 7159
telephone:  +63 74 304 4239
cp:  +63 918 919 9007
email: [email protected]

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