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    State agents harass, terrorize development workers, human rights defenders

    Dear friends,

    Please join us in our call to stop harassment and surveillance of members and staff of progressive people’s organizations by military agents. The acts are attempts to disrupt the organizations’ activities and terrorize people involved in development and human rights work.  The three incidents below happened in a span of three weeks.

    Intimidation letters from the military

    Last April 27 at least five members and officers of Confederation of Unity of Recognition and Advancement for Government Employees (COURAGE) received letters listing down  their involvement with the union and linking these to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

    Those who received a note were: Roman M. Sanchez, National Food Authority (NFA) employee and National Food Authority Employees Association (NFAEA) National President, Evelyn P. Garcia, NFA employee and national assistant secretary general of NFAEA, Fely Saño, NHA employee and CUE-NHA 2nd Vice President, Rosalinda Nartates, CUE-NHA National President and COURAGE Secretary General, and Manuel Baclagon SWEAP-DSWD (Social Welfare Employees Association–Department of Social Welfare and Development) National President and former COURAGE Deputy Secretary General.

    Garcia’s note said, “Ate Evelyn, Call me for the country’s sake”. A cellphone number was also written on the note.  The note was given to her by a man who introduced himself as a government employee. He sat beside her on the jeepney but alighted immediately when Garcia asked further questions.

    Saño got her note near the gate of their home while Baclagon got the note from both his office and at home. All three others received a note accusing them that they are members of an organization that is a “front of the CPPA-NPA.”  Some of the notes had contact numbers where the addressee can call “should they return to the fold.”

    Prior to this, on April 21, a certain Sgt. Borres who introduced himself as liaison officer of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) entered the NFA premises looking for Hilario M. Tan, retired NFA employee and former vice president of the NFAEA and Ms. Evelyn P. Garcia. He was stopped by the lobby guard and brought to the Security Service office of the NFA for questioning because he was carrying a .45 calibre pistol. The security personnel asked Borres for a mission order but he could not produce one, so he left.

    “Sir, positive, they are in the area.”

    On May 15, 2015, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) held an All Leaders’ Meeting at the Teachers’ Center building where the offices of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) and the Quezon City Public School Teachers’ Association (QCPSTA) are also located. The meeting was called to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and updates on the workers who died in the fire at the Kentex factory. Around 60 leaders and campaign officers from 31 organizations, including Karapatan and its members, attended the meeting, which started at 1 p.m.

    The security personnel of ACT partylist representative Tonchi Tinio noticed several men around the area of the Teachers’ Center Building. One of the men was heard talking on the phone saying, “Sir, positive, they are in the vicinity.” This was about the same time when Bayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay and another Karapatan staff arrived.

    Aside from the men, there were also two motorcycles, without plate numbers, parked on both sides of the building. The riders were standing by as if waiting for someone to come out from the building. A Toyota Innova AUV was also parked, with the engine on, right in front of the building. There were men inside who were observing what was happening.

    When confronted, the men on the two motorcycles fled away; while the men in the tinted Innova couldn’t explain their presence and left as soon as they were confronted.

    Children’s rights activists tailed

    Registered social workers Madella Santiago and Eilekrenes Manano of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns and Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) came from a meeting at around 7 p.m. on May 14, 2015. Both went out of their office to have dinner. A few minutes later, another staff went out of the office after them, also to buy some food.

    The staff saw Santiago and Manano went to a restaurant while being followed by a man on a motorcycle with a covered plate. While at the waiting shed outside the restaurant, the staff heard a man beside him talk over the phone and say, “They are here.” The same motorcycle rider would later be seen looking inside the CRC and Salinlahi offices a few minutes after Santiago and Manano went back to the said office.

    The next evening, two men were again spotted in front of the gate of the Salinlahi/CRC office. The men were texting and looked like they were monitoring the people coming in and out of the office.

    On May 16, two men were again spotted at the office, this time in front of a heavily tinted blue car bearing a CIDG sticker.

    Recommended Action:

    Send letters, emails or fax messages calling for:

    1. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will look into the threats, harassment, intimidation and surveillance against these progressive organizations.
    2. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of people’s organizations as “front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
    3. The Philippine Government to withdraw its counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes innocent and unarmed civilians.
    4. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.

    You may send your communications to:

    H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
    President of the Republic
    Malacañang Palace,
    JP Laurel St., San Miguel
    Manila Philippines
    Voice: (+632) 564 1451 to 80
    Fax: (+632) 742-1641 / 929-3968
    E-mail: corres@op.gov.ph / opnet@ops.gov.ph

    Sec. Teresita Quintos-Deles
    Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process
    Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP)
    7th Floor Agustin Building I
    Emerald Avenue
    Pasig City 1605
    Voice:+63 (2) 636 0701 to 066
    Fax:+63 (2) 638 2216
    osec@opapp.gov.ph

    Ret. Lt. Gen. Voltaire T. Gazmin
    Secretary, Department of National Defense
    Room 301 DND Building, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo,
    Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Quezon City
    Voice:+63(2) 911-9281 / 911-0488
    Fax:+63(2) 911 6213
    Email: osnd@philonline.com

    Atty. Leila De Lima
    Secretary, Department of Justice
    Padre Faura St., Manila
    Direct Line 521-8344; 5213721
    Trunkline  523-84-81 loc.214
    Fax: (+632) 521-1614
    Email:  soj@doj.gov.ph

    Hon.  Loretta Ann P. Rosales
    Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights
    SAAC Bldg., UP Complex
    Commonwealth Avenue
    Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
    Voice: (+632) 928-5655, 926-6188
    Fax: (+632) 929 0102
    Email: chair.rosales.chr@gmail.com
    lorettann@gmail.com

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