Rights groups demand IACLA abolition

By Joseph Cuevas

Human rights group Karapatan and other organizations trooped to Camp Crame in Quezon City Tuesday, October 9, to demand the abolition of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA) they said is a mechanism for political repression.

Karapatan said since the formation of IACLA by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) a year ago, 221 individuals have been charged with trumped-up cases.

Of those charged, 178 have already been arrested from October 9, 2017 to September 30 this year, Karapatan said.

The group said 128 peasant and indigenous peoples have been victimised by these trumped-up charges.

It added that the arrests include those of development workers Benito Quilloy and Rita Espinoza of Assert Socio-Economic Initiatives Network last October 2017, the continuous detention of National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant Rafael Baylosis, trade union organizer Marklen Maojo Maga and public sector union organizers Alexander Reyes and spouses Oliver and Rowena Rosales.  Karapatan added.

“We call on for the abolition of IACLA and the withdrawal of all trumped up charges against activists and progressives. This is a systematic move by the government to legitimize repression, a blatant subversion of laws compounded by the collusion with the Justice Department, courts and other agencies to jail individuals and members of progressive organizations labelled as enemies of the state,” Karapatan said.

Makabayan seeks House probe

Meanwhile representatives from the Makabayan bloc at the House of Representatives filed a resolution seeking a probe on “the profiling and surveillance of PNP against activists in schools.”

House Resolution 2229 filed last Monday wants the House Committee on Human Rights to look into the claims of the AFP that some schools recruitment grounds for communists.

Rep. Sarah Elago of the Kabataan Party said that the AFP’s move is a serious attack and crackdown against youth and students groups critical of government policies.

She added that the so-called ‘Red October’ plot is a mere ploy to silence the people’s growing opposition to rising prices brought by the government’s tax reform law.

School administrators from the University of the Philippines (UP), De La Salle University and the Ateneo de Manila University denied the allegation.

Dialogue with CHR

Last Monday, progressive groups and church leaders held a dialogue with the Commission on Human Rights about the red-baiting incidents against activists and church leaders.

Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Antonio Ablon of Pagadian City told to CHR Chairman Chito Gascon that the military branded him and his church as a “menace” and as members of New People’s Army with markings and spray paint on the wall of a chapel last September 29.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) also revealed a PNP memorandum to all station commanders to conduct surveillance and profiling of so called “left leaning groups and leaders.”

These include the profiling of unionists at the Jose Reyes Medical Center in Manila.

Police officers also visited the office of an environment group and the student regent of UP were also reported, Bayan added.

Gascon for his part said the CHR investigate.

Gascon added that the CHR will create a mechanism such as a quick reaction team in cooperation with human rights groups and lawyers group to address reports of human rights violations.