By Chito Chavez
Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said “instead of acting on the legitimate demands of teachers for salary increase, the Duterte regime subjects those who assert such to surveillance and harassment’’.
Instead of moving decisively to stop the killings of journalists, Palabay scored the government for supposedly “laying the pretext for their killing with the red-tagging of their organizations and members’’.
Instead of addressing the urgent call for genuine agrarian reform, Duterte’s forces harass peasants and the religious to conveniently justify their killing,” said Palabay on the recent spate of harassment reported to the rights group, including the profiling of and surveillance on members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
Palabay questioned the move stressing that “ACT has an extensive record of service in upholding the rights and interests of teachers, staff, students, and other sectors.
She noted that ‘this kind of service and activism apparently does not sit well with this government saying the “police order to profile and surveil ACT members and the harassment against ACT Party-list Rep. France Castro, following her staunch defense of lumad schools, teachers and students, might be a prelude to worse attacks, including arrests and even killings’’.
“This has been the trend in other cases of red-tagging under this regime and the previous administrations,” she added.
Earlier, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde sacked intelligence chiefs of the Manila Police District Station 3, Quezon City Police District Station 6 and provincial intelligence branch of the Zambales police for the memorandum ordering the surveillance of ACT members.
However, Albayalde insisted that members of the said group have nothing to fear if “they are not doing anything unlawful.”
Palabay insisted Albayalde ordered the relief of said officers not because he considered the surveillance of ACT members as wrong, but because he thought the manner was not discreet enough.
She reiterated the systematic profiling and harassment should be a cause of worry, not because of unlawful doings, but because the police are known to arrest and kill and spin stories to justify their atrocities.
“The PNP are putting the lives of members of ACT and their families at risk. We are in no way comforted by the assurances of Albayalde, considering the thousands the police have killed and jailed on the basis of mere allegations and trumped-up charges,” Palabay said.
Karapatan raised that aside from the memorandum on ACT members, red-tagging have also been directed toward other organizations.
Palabay said on January 7, officers of the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) received a stream of interview requests from community news outfits soliciting reactions on charges that a former NUJP officer “admitted” that the said organization had links to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
She noted the source of the allegations purportedly came from banner stories of Manila-based tabloids, including Police Files Tonite, Bagong Bomba, and Saksi Mata ng Katotohanan which ran the headline: “NUJP PINAMUMUNUAN NG CPP-NPA-NDF” (NUJP, headed by CPP-NPA-NDF).
NUJP is an organization dedicated to defending and expanding press freedom and freedom of expression, and has been vocal in criticizing the repressive policies throughout various administrations.
Karapatan said the organization reported that at least 12 of its colleagues have been murdered under the Duterte regime.
On January 8, Karapatan noted another set of markings were found along bridges in San Vicente, Mahayag and Dipolo, Molave, Zamboanga Del Sur.
Palabay said the markings red-tagged ACT Party-list, the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) and the League of Filipino Students as organizations of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The chairperson of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Western Mindanao also reported malicious markings red-tagging their organization along the highway of Siay Municipality, Zamboanga Sibugay.
“We reiterate that activism is not a crime and any form of political persecution of those upholding the rights and welfare of the people not only run contrary to our constitutional rights to organize and to form associations, but these are also neon signs of a tyrannical government testing the limits of its power to curtail our rights. We cannot discount that this profiling and red-tagging are pretexts for a much more sinister plan, along the lines of nationwide martial law and intensified repression. We demand an immediate end to these attacks,” Palabay concluded.