Rights groups express alarm over intensified harassment
By Joseph Cuevas
Karapatan and other progressive groups scored the government over recent incidents of harassments and red-tagging of progressive organizations and activists.
Karapatan linked this series of attacks to the alleged ‘Red October’ destabilization plot the military and police said the Communist Party of the Philippines and other groups are about to launch this month.
Karapatan reported that last week, red-tagging incidents by State forces against church leaders and organizations were recorded.
Last September 21, the Karapatan chapter in Cagayan Valley received text messages accusing the organization of being a legal front of the New People’s Army and being “fake humanitarians.”
The group also reported last that last September 29 in Pampanga, a streamer was hung over a bridge in Balibago in Angeles City with a message “Karapatan, terrorist and protector.”
A similar incident happened last September 28 in Zamboanga Del Sur where the perimeter wall of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) church in Tigbao town were painted with the words “IFI=NPA”.
“UCCP=NPA, IFI=NPA and Bishop Ablon=NPA” were also painted along the highway of Brgy. Lacupayan in Tigbao.
IFI Bishop Antonio Ablon is the chairperson of Karapatan Western Mindanao.
Legal groups red-tagged
Urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) also reported harassments against its chairperson Gloria Arellano and public information officer Michael Beltran.
KADAMAY said two police officers asked for their whereabouts at their office in Quezon City but the two leaders were not around at the time.
The unidentified police officer also queried KADAMAY personnel about Arellano and Beltran’s activities.
Organizers and labor leaders of NutriAsia in Meycauayan in Bulacan also reported harassments by police in civilian clothing were roving around the church where workers were staying.
Incidents of rock throwing also happened after workers ran after fleeing motorcycle-riding men believed to be NutriAsia guards casing the area.
The workers said even Meycauayan Police Supt. Santos Mera was seen around the area looking for the labor leaders.
Mera commanded the violent dispersals of striking Nutriasia workers last June 14 and July 31.
Red October canard
Karapatan said that the Duterte regime is hard-selling the alleged ‘Red October’ plot to further justify its human rights violations.
The group cited the killing of a 43-year old Moro Human Rights Worker in Maguindanao last September 23.
“The regime is conjuring its own monsters, triggered by insecurities which stem from its inability to solve the country’s problems,” Karapatan said.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Peace Center (PPC) said that the so-called ‘Red October’ ouster plot is a lie.
“It is a fabrication aimed at preventing the various legal groups from closing ranks and undertaking bigger joint protest actions. It is a part of scheme to red-tag, demonize and stigmatize the more militant and progressive groups as ‘terrorist’ and ‘communist’ as a prelude to ‘neutralizing’ them with more repressive measures,” the PPC said. #