Panayam kay Cristina Palabay ng Karapatan ni Jola Diones-Mamangun ng Kodao Productions hinggil sa desisyon ng Korte Suprema na ipinagbabawal na ang paglabas ng mga warrant of arrests mula sa mga husgado ng Quezon City at Manila na walang kinalaman sa kanilang nasasakupan.
A local organization that is the subject of incessant red-tagging and slander by the military and the Rodrigo Duterte government is awarded a prestigious international award “in recognition of its commitment to human rights in the Philippines.”
The Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights is this year’s recipient of the annual William D. Zabel Human Rights Award given by United States-based group Human Rights First.
The awarding ceremony was held online and featured a performance by Annie Lenox and other internationally-acclaimed artists.
“The award has been presented annually for more than three decades and acknowledges the work of courageous activists on the front lines of the struggle for freedom and human rights,” Human Rights First president and CEO Michael Breen said in a statement.
“Human Rights First has tremendous respect and admiration for Karapatan and the work done by (secretary general) Tinay Palabay. They are human rights defenders whom the government of Philippines regularly targets, and we hope this award, and our ongoing partnership, helps shine a bright light on their efforts and shields them from additional threats,” Breen added.
Human Rights First noted Karapatan’s documentation of human rights violations through fact-finding missions, active filings of cases through Philippine courts and quasi-judicial bodies like the Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations, and other international human rights bodies.
“It also refers victims to medical professionals and groups for psycho-social and additional assistance; and organizes victims of human rights violations and their families,” Human Rights First said.
The group also noted that no less than 15 human rights workers of Karapatan have been killed in the past five years, nearly 70 since 2001, and many more are imprisoned or are facing judicial harassment and threats because of their work in defending human rights.
“This recognition is an homage to their memory and legacy of selflessness, compassion and service to the poor and oppressed and we continue to honor them every day as we do the best that we can in advocacy, documentation, direct services and movement-building in the Philippines,” Human Rights First said.
The William D. Zabel Human Rights Award is presented each year to leaders and organizations for their work in advancing rights, justice and equality for those suffering persecution and violations of their human rights.
The award is named after the renowned human rights defender who first became famous for his successful campaign against bans on interracial marriage in the United States.
Zabel Award recipients include ALQST for Human Rights, which monitors and documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia; Miroslava Cerpas Hernández, who promotes the rights of migrants and refugees displaced by violence in Honduras; Friar Tomás González, who protects vulnerable migrants on the Mexican border; Yazidi human rights activists Khaleel Aldakhi and Ameena Saeed Hasan; European antisemitism activists Jane Braden-Golay, Siavosh Derakhti, and Niddal El-Jabri; Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who later went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; and human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng of China.
Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York, Washington D.C., Houston, and Los Angeles.
Dedicated to martyred rights defenders
In a statement, Palabay said Karapatan is grateful for the recognition of their work in defending and advancing people’s rights.
Palabay said the award is a homage and tribute to the memory of their fallen comrades and their legacy of selflessness, compassion and service to the poor and oppressed.
“We cry out for justice over the killings of our fellow human rights workers under the Duterte administration: Zara Alvarez, Elisa Badayos, Bernardino Patigas Sr., Mariam Uy Acob, Ryan Hubilla, Nelly Bagasala, Billamin Hassan, Joseph Baning, Atty. Benjamin Ramos, Randy Malayao, Arnie Espenilla, Lizando Alcovendas, Pizo Cabug, and Aldren Enriquez. We likewise recall our colleagues Bishop Alberto Ramento, Eden Marcellana, Benjaline Hernandez, Fr. William Tadena, Rev. Edison Lapuz, Atty. Juvy Magsino, Prof. Jose Maria Cui, Fernando Baldomero, Romeo Capalla, William Bugatti and many others who were killed during the past administrations — whose killings have remained unresolved to this day,” Palabay said.
Many other Karapatan workers are being persecuted for their work, Palabay said, including their chairperson Elisa Tita Lubi, regional leaders Jayvee Apiag and Daisy “Jackie” Valencia and workers Teresita Naul, Alexander Philip Abinguna, Renalyn Tejero and Nimfa Lanzanas who are in jail due to “similar fabricated cases.”
She added that the Zabel award is dedicated to Karapatan chairperson emirita Marie Hilao-Enriquez, and the late former Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) chairperson, Philippine Navy Captain Danilo Vizmanos.
Duterte, charged with crimes against humanity for thousands of reported extrajudicial killings related to his government’s centerpiece drug war, had singled out Karapatan and called it an “organization of demons” in one of his notorious rants against critics.
Palabay said the Zabel Award is a strong statement of solidarity and an affirmation that human rights work is a just and essential endeavor in the midst of tyranny and oppression.
“Let this be a strong rebuke to the murderous ways of this administration and a clarion call for justice,” Palabay said.
“This award also comes at a crucial time, against the backdrop of a rapidly deteriorating human rights crisis and alarming democratic backsliding in the Philippines, and this award is a recognition of the tremendous challenges we currently face amid worsening attacks on human rights defenders, police brutality, militarization, and the narrowing of civic and democratic spaces in the country,” Palabay said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
“President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to block access to records of police killings in the drug war is a clear and undeniable pronouncement that this government openly encourages impunity.” — Cristina Palabay, Secretary-General, Karapatan
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)
The Canadian House of Commons (HOC) conducted a hearing on the human rights situation in the Philippines on Tuesday (May 4 Canadian time and early Wednesday, May 5, PH time) amid growing calls to the North American government to end its policy of “quiet diplomacy” with the Rodrigo Duterte government.
Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay and Rappler’s Maria Ressa testified at the hearing, along with Quebec lawyer and International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines – Quebec co-chairperson Guy-Lin Beaudoin and MiningWatch Canada’s Catherine Coumans.
Palabay told the HOC Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development that the Duterte government’s “murderous” counter-insurgency campaign violates the principle of distinction between civilians and combatants.
The killing of 394 civilians, including 15 Karapatan human rights workers, is an “epidemic of rights violations,” Palabay said.
“We implore the Canadian government to take action on these concerns with urgency, as our country further descends into an authoritarian state,” Palabay added.
Ressa echoed Palabay, adding the Philippine government has “weaponized” laws to go after human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists like her.
Rappler’s co-founder and executive editor said women are more vulnerable from attacks, citing as examples her 10 arrest warrants and two arrests as well as the imprisonment of fellow journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio and Senator Leila de Lima.
Canadians against rights violations in the PH
Canadian human rights defenders also testified at the briefing to urge their government to fulfill its human rights obligations to the international community.
Beaudoin challenged the Canadian Foreign Ministry of Foreign Affairs to publicly condemn the reported atrocities committed by the Philippine government and its security forces on the Filipino people and called for the suspension of all Canadian support to the Philippine government’s anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency programs.
Beaudoin also called on their foreign minister to urge the Canadian Embassy in Manila to apply vigorously the tools in Canada’s guidelines on supporting human rights defenders to protect those who face immediate danger of being killed or arrested.
Enumerating human rights violations associated with Canadian mining companies operating in the Philippines, Coumans for her part called on Canada “to fulfill its obligation to protect human rights in the context of the deteriorated human rights situation in the Philippines.”
“[I]n particular, to protect those who are criminalized and whose lives are threatened for speaking out in defense of human rights and the environment,” Coumans said.
She said the Canadian Embassy in Manila has not been doing enough in protecting people who seek its assistance and support. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
“Sa ika-limang paggunita ng International Human Rights Day sa ilalim ng rehimeng Duterte, atin siyang isinasakdal sa pagpatay sa mahihirap, sa pagpapabaya sa kasalukuyang pandemya.”— Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general
Mendiola, December 10, 2020
“We emphasize – red-tagging is anathema to a democracy. The promotion and conduct of such acts attempt to invalidate, muffle and silence the views and work of human rights defenders, activists, and advocates of social causes, and the peoples’ exercise of basic rights and fundamental freedoms.” — Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, Karapatan
“Tapos na panahon ng pagkakatakot. Mas nakakatakot ang mamatay na kumakalam ang sikmura ng ating mga pamilya. Mas nakakatakot ang posibilidad na mananatili pa ang ‘veerus’ sa Malacañang. Mas nakakatakot na ang ating mga pamilya at anak ay magmamana ng ganitong klase ng pamumuno.” — Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Alliance Philippines
A Philippine National Police (PNP) operative dressed and presented himself to be a delivery boy in a failed attempt to arrest Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay Wednesday, June 7.
Police Master Sergeant (SPOI) Joelon de Tomas Rafael was dressed as an LBC courier when he arrived at Karapatan’s office in Quezon City and introduced himself as an employee of the delivery company.
“I was served a warrant of arrest this afternoon by a guy who introduced himself as an LBC courier. He was wearing the uniform/t-shirt and had an ID. Is this the usual procedure now?” Palabay wrote in a Facebook post.
Palabay said she was surprised when Rafael introduced himself as an LBC courier when he served the arrest warrant.
She added that another person in civilian clothes accompanying Rafael introduced himself as a police officer from the Quezon City Police District’s headquarters in nearby Camp Karingal.
Palabay told Kodao that the undercover officer was Police Chief Master Sergeant (SPO3) Luisito Johnson Ubias
“I asked for their IDs. The guy in plainclothes easily gave his and said, after I badgered the ‘LBC guy’ for his ID, that the LBC guy is also a cop,” Palabay revealed.
The prominent human rights activist said she reminded the two police officers that the manner they were serving the arrest warrant violated the PNP’s manual on such operations.
“[W]hen you’re serving warrants of arrests, you should introduce yourself as policemen/arresting officers. You should be in uniform. In fact, you should have read to me my Miranda rights,” Palabay told Ubias and Rafael.
Rafael also lied when asked for his identification card, saying he left it in the car. He eventually took it from his pocket when pressed, Palabay said.
The officers tried to justify their ruse by saying they would not be able to arrest respondents if they stick to legal procedures, she added.
Ubias and Rafael apologized and left after their identification cards and documents were photocopied, Palabay said.
Perjury complaint by Esperon
Palabay said the arrest warrant stemmed from a perjury case filed by national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. in retaliation for the Writ of Amparo and Habeas Data petition Karapatan, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and Gabriela filed with the Supreme Court in May 2019.
Esperon was among the respondents named in the petition of having threatened and red-baited officers and members of the three organizations.
“This (the perjury case) was initially dismissed by a Quezon City prosecutor, and then revived and filed in court by another prosecutor, after Esperon’s motion for reconsideration,” Palabay explained.
Palabay said she showed Ubias and Rafael the recall order for the arrest warrant against her.
“They said they only received the arrest warrant yesterday and they haven’t received the recall order (issued on April 29, 2020! More than two months ago!),” Palabay said, adding she has posted bail and presented myself to an executive judge via online channels to secure the recall of the arrest warrant against her.
‘Does LBC know?’
In a Facebook post, Karapatan lawyer Ma. Sol Taule asked if the courier company knows its identity is being used by the PNP for undercover operations.
“Alam ba ng LBC Express Inc na ginagamit niyo ang pangalan ng kompanya nila para mang-harass ng mga tao?” Taule asked. (Does LBC Express Inc. know that you [PNP] use their company to harass people?)
“At ano naman kaya ang susunod niyong costume? Grab, Food Panda, Lala Move Delivery?” she asked, referring to other courier service companies in the country. (What costume would you be using next?)
Taule also asked the police if donning LBC uniforms is part of Rule 6.1 of the PNP’s operations manual.
The manual orders that arrest, search and seizure, checkpoint, roadblocks, demolition and civil disturbance management operations shall be conducted with a marked police vehicle, led by a Police Commissioned Officer (PCO), and with personnel in prescribed police uniform or attire.
Ubias and Rafael are non-commissioned officers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
“With the conviction of Ressa and Santos, the shutdown of ABS-CBN, the killings and threats against journalists, the numerous violations faced by Filipinos on a daily basis and the passage of the terror bill, a full-blown dictatorship is made more palpable.”–Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general