Karapatan today assailed the recent spate of harassment and trumped up charges against Karapatan human rights workers Honey Mae Suazo, Secretary General of the organization’s chapter in Southern Mindanao; Rev. Allen Bill Veloso, Chairperson of Karapatan-SoCSKSarGen; and Pastor Sadrach Sabella, Secretary General of Karapatan-SoCSKSarGen.
The three were included in the numerous harassment suits against human rights defenders, pastors of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) and religious workers from Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) filed at the Office of City Prosecutor in Davao City and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor in Malapatan and Alabel, Sarangani province.
“These charges were filed against them because they have been steadfast in supporting the indigenous people and farmers who were killed, tortured and forcibly evacuated due to military operations of the 10th Infantry Division and the 73rd Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army (IBPA) in Mindanao. Because of this, they have been called ‘enemies of the State,’ repeatedly vilified, and are now facing reprisals because of their human rights work,” Palabay said.
The charges were filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group of the Philippine National Police, Philippine National Police-Alabel, elements of the 73rd IBPA and their assets in local government and in the community.
Also included in the charges of kidnapping, serious illegal detention, violations of Anti-Trafficking Act in Davao City are Suazo, UCCP Rev. Jurie Jaime of the Promotion of Church People’s Response-SMR, Sr. Stella Matutina of Panalipdan-SMR, Sr. Restita Miles of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Sheena Duazo of Bayan SMR, Ryan Lariba of Bayan Socsksargen, Tony Salubre of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-SMR, Jaja Necosia of Kilab Multimedia, Kerlan Fanagel, Sr., secretary general of the Lumad group Pasaka, Isidro Andao, spokesperson of Pasaka, Kharlo Manano, national secretary general of Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns and spokesperson of the Save Our Schools network; Rius Valle of the Children’s Rehabilitation Center-SMR and activists Jimong Marciano and Pedro Arnaldo.
In the charges filed before the Sarangani fiscals on attempted murder, violations of the law for the protection of children and on International Humanitarian Law, inciting to sedition, among others, the following were included in the charge sheet as respondents: Sabella, Veloso, Ryan Lariba of Bayan Socsksargen, Anelfa Gemilo, Lorna Mora and Junard Cayamba of Lumad group Kaluhhamin, Lorencio Teo of Makasdalu, Bert Padayao of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, UCCP Rev. Roger Rafalez, Mercedes Arlene P. Alonzo and Marmar Cawan of Clans, Nestor Masalon of Kafye de Lagad Marlo Magramo of Bayan Muna, Borning Manganyong, Alfredo Manganyong, Armand Teo, Bulahing Masalon, Ruben Wating, Hermis Tuco and Rodel Lumayas.
During numerous occasions since last year and especially this year, Suazo has experienced surveillance, threats and harassment from the notorious 69th IBPA, also known as the Palparan battalion, and the 10th IDPA under Maj. Gen. Eduardo Año. Sabella, meanwhile, is reportedly on the military’s Order of Battle list.
“We will hold the Armed Forces of the Philippines accountable for any further violation against the rights of these human rights defenders. The fabricated charges against them have no merit at all, and all of the allegations are merely products of the AFP’s utak-pulbura imagination,” Palabay concluded.
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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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.