IACoLA arrests, charges more activists with trumped-up cases–Karapatan

Human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights revealed two more farmers were arrested in Southern Tagalog last week, accusing the Rodrigo Duterte government of continuing repression against activists.

Karapatan said farmer Arnold Albarillo was arrested by the Philippine National Police in San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro last Saturday,  August 11, while former Coco Levy Fund Ibalik sa Amin (CLIAM) spokesperson Mylene Santua was also arrested by the police in Brgy. Pagsanghan, San Francisco, Quezon Wednesday, August 15.

Albarillo, a barangay official of Calsapa, San Teodoro, was reportedly invited by two men in civilian clothing to the Provincial Safety Battallion in Barangay Taclingan in the said municipality but ended up being interrogated for two hours before being transferred to the Philipine National Police station.

Albarillo is being charged with trumped-up cases of double murder, frustrated murder and rebellion in Gumaca, Quezon filed in 2014, Karapatan said.

Albarillo’s parents and brother were tortured and killed in April 2002, during the terror reign of then Col. Jovito Palparan in the region.

Manuela and Expedito, both coordinators of Bayan Muna, were accused of being members of the New People’s Army, and were killed. Armando Albarillo, Arnold’s brother, then secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – Timog Katagalugan (BAYAN-TK) was shot by elements of the 74th IBPA in 2012.

Meanwhile, Karapatan said Santua was undergoing prenatal care procedure when she was accosted by the police and currently detained at a camp in Brgy. Malamig, San Francisco, Quezon.

Santua’s group CLIAM has been calling for the return of more than 200 billion worth of funds to coconut farmers.

“There is a continuity of repression and injustice from one regime to the next. These are not isolated cases, as some of these violations have started way back in the administrations of Arroyo and Aquino. There is a thread of repression carefully weaved by those in government — a thread that keeps on getting longer,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Palabay noted that Albarillo and Santua’s arrests followed the arrest of spouses Rowena and Oliver Rosales, former organizers of public sector union Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (COURAGE).

All four are now facing trumped-up charges, Palabay said.

The Karapatan leader linked the recent arrests to the formation and mobilization of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACoLA), a committee manned by both the AFP and the PNP and specifically tasked to file charges against activists and members of progressive organizations falsely labeled as “enemies of the State.”

“Since IACLA’s creation in October 2017, 129 individuals have already been arrested and are currently detained on the basis of trumped-up charges. As of June 2018, there are already 503 political prisoners in the country,” Palabay said.

“We again call for the abolition of the IACoLA. [It is] inspired by the same task force created during the time of Arroyo [and has become]a state policy that legitimizes political persecution against rights defenders and local community leaders. We demand the immediate release of the Rosales couple, Arnold Arbarillo, Mylene Santua, and all political prisoners. The Duterte regime is deliberately continuing the thread of repression, even taking it to an unprecedented degree,” concluded Palabay. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)


Abolish IACoLA, trumped-up charges—Makabayan 4

Activists called on the abolition of the government’s Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACoLA) in a gathering celebrating the dismissal of double murder charges against their four leaders in Quezon City Tuesday, August 14.

In a packed hall at the Quezon City Sports Club, National Anti-Poverty Commission lead convenor Liza Maza and fellow former Makabayan bloc representatives Satur Ocampo, Rafael Mariano and Teddy Casiño condemned the IACoLA as an attack mechanism resurrected from the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo era.

The four said IACoLA was the resurrected form of the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) that persecuted the four, along with former Anakpawis Representative Joel Virador and the late Crispin Beltran who were then collectively known as the Batasan 6 who sought refuge at the House of Representatives for many weeks.

“If these are truly the handiwork of the reconstituted (IALAG) as some quarters have alleged, then this body requires the reexamination as they did with its predecessor, the (AILAG) under the time of Arroyo, which was abolished upon the recommendation of the UN,” Maza said.

The IACoLA was created through a joint resolution signed by former Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Año last October 9, 2017.

The PNP and the AFP said the resolution aims to strengthen the intelligence gathering and cooperation, investigation, prosecution and monitoring of cases against threat groups by establishing stronger coordination of ongoing and future efforts of the government in addressing cases.

The activists, however, said IACoLA is being used to persecute perceived dissenters using trumped up charges.

Human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights cited the abduction of couple Rowena and Oliver Rosales last Saturday in Bulacan as another handiwork of IACoLA.

Karapatan said the Rosaleses, former Confederation for the Unity, Advancement and Recognition of Government Employees (Courage) organizers, were forcibly taken while onboard their privately-owned tricycle at Barangay Wawa, Balagtas, Bulacan, and were later taken to Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Rowena was later shown a warrant of arrest for trumped-up charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives, the same warrant used against Courage member Juan Alexander Reyes on June 2, 2018, the group said.

“The Duterte regime is tying up loose ends left by past repressive governments. Taking off from the atrocious handiwork of previous regimes, foremost that of Marcos’, Arroyo’s and Aquino’s, Duterte has escalated attacks against rights defenders,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

“Many of such violations are orchestrated by the police and the military in line with the IACoLA in particular, and counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan in general,” Palabay said, adding that at least 129 rights defenders and political dissenters have already been arrested and filed with trumped-up charges since IACLA’s creation in October 2017.

“It is time to review, reexamine at dismantle this group as AILAG was dismantled before. This is a grave concern for all of us. These trumped-up charges against all of us activists and individuals who are working for genuine change in society,” Maza said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)