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)