Canadian parliamentarians called on the Philippines government to stop its officials from harassing and threatening the lives of human rights defenders.
In a statement, the Canadian House of Commons Subcommittee on International Human Rights said it is appalled that Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay was harassed and threatened by a top intelligence official after appearing as a resource person in its hearing earlier this month.
“After sharing her traumatic experiences defending human rights in the Philippines, Cristina Palabay’s life was threatened by agents of the Philippines government as a direct result of her appearance before the Subcommittee,” it said from Ottawa.
“The Subcommittee is appalled by the situation Ms. Palabay finds herself in,” the Subcommittee added.
Palabay and Rappler executive editor Maria Ressa narrated human rights abuses by the Rodrigo Duterte government in a hearing conducted by the Subcommittee last May 4.
The Canadian parliamentarians said Palabay’s “brave” testimony described the crumbling state of human rights in the Philippines, for which is continuously being persecuted.
Immediately after, National Intelligence Coordinating Agency Alex Paul Monteagudo posted images online alleging Palabay’s connections with the underground Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army.
Just last month, Monteagudo earned the ire of Philippine Senators and the employees union of the Philippine Senate for his “malicious, baseless and dangerous” red-tagging activities of public sector unionists.
The Subcommittee said it will take “additional measures” to mitigate risks Palabay and other resource persons face.
“The personal safety and wellbeing of all those who appear before the Subcommittee are of the utmost concern to its members,” the Subcommittee said.
It also called on the Canadian government to denounce the attacks, especially against human rights defenders such as Palabay.
“The Subcommittee reminds states that have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, such as the Philippines, that when attacking human rights defenders, they are violating their international human rights obligations,” it said.
Palabay also denounced the attacks, saying Monteagudo’s posts show the Duterte government’s “disdain for independent justice-seeking efforts.”
Palabay said reprisals by government officials against defenders who provide testimonies and information to governmental or inter-governmental bodies on the human rights situation in the Philippines should stop. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)