Efforts by the Philippine National Police (PNP) to extract a list Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) members are part of the Rodrigo Duterte government’s fascist schemes, the teachers’ group said.
Reacting to visits by police operatives in schools and Department of Education (DepEd) offices last week to ask for a list of ACT members, the group accused both the PNP and the President of creating another “tokhang” list.
“This is part and parcel of the Duterte regime’s grand fascist scheme to suppress all forms of opposition to its tyrannical rule, further legitimized and strengthened by Duterte’s Executive Order 70 which converted the civilian bureaucracy into a fascist machinery,” ACT said in a strongly worded statement.
“This involves profiling, surveillance, identification, and neutralization of organizations critical to the current regime’s anti-people acts and policies,” one of the largest teachers’ organization in the country added.
ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro revealed through a series of social media posts over the weekend that police operatives went around schools and DepEd offices to demand lists of ACT members citing a PNP memorandum as basis.
The operations appear to be nationwide in scale and points to the top PNP leadership as the main source of the order, the group alleged.
ACT said the PNP memorandum on the inventory and profiling of ACT members is very similar to the police’s list of drug users and peddlers, tens of thousands of whom ended up dead in nightly police raids all over the country.
“The PNP will have blood on their hands, and the fascist State shall be held responsible if anything untoward happens to any ACT member. We are not afraid. We have been through this time and again,” ACT national president Joselyn Martinez said.
Founded in 1982, ACT is a nationalist and militant alliance of teachers and education workers that has attracted members due to its consistent struggle for higher salaries and benefits.
Its successes in the last decades enabled the group to create an allied political organization. ACT Teachers’ Party has two sitting legislators at the House of Representatives.
Its teachers’ union, the ACT Union has chapters nationwide and is recognized as a sole bargaining unit of teachers and education workers in several regions, including the National Capital Region.
“ACT is a legitimate teachers’ organization with a long history of service to professional teachers, education support personnel, and the Filipino people in general,” Martinez said.
As a militant organization, ACT, however, has been the subject of attacks by police and military agents for being a “communist front.” Several of its members and organizers have been killed and jailed throughout the years.
Profiling operations against ACT members is a Gestapo-style operation, ACT said of the latest PNP scheme against the group.
“The PNP has no business meddling in the affairs of teachers’ organization…Their dastardly act of profiling ACT members is maliciously casting unnecessary doubt on the legitimacy of ACT as an organization,” the group said.
The group also denounced DepEd officials who acceded to the PNP memorandum, “thereby inviting harm to their own employees and even their students.”
It urged DepEd officials to oppose the “unconstitutional” police operations that may violate teachers’ rights.
“DepEd must order the withholding of any information about ACT members which may be used by the PNP to intimidate and harass teacher-unionists who fight for decent salaries and benefits, for the people’s right to education and other basic services, and for the rights and well-being of the people,” it said.
As of this writing, the DepEd has reportedly ordered its officer in charge in the Manila Division of City Schools to rescind her order supporting the PNP memorandum.
CNN Philippines also reported Monday that PNP chief Oscar Albayalde has ordered the relief of intelligence officers over the “leak” on the profiling of ACT members in Manila, Quezon City and Zambales Province.
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed alarm over the PNP’s operations against ACT and called on the police to adhere to the rule of law.
“Reports of alleged profiling of members of ACT are alarming as it violates rights to privacy and association, which are guaranteed freedoms in the Constitution among others,” CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia in a statement said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
As a fact-finding mission on the killings in Negros Occidental was being restricted in Guihulngan City, human rights defenders in the National Capital Region held a protest activity in front of Camp Crame to denounce the police crackdown.
Six civilians were killed in quick succession in the said province in recent days.
The Philippine National Police said the victims were drug users and peddlers but the activists said they were land reform advocates who were summarily executed by state forces.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered intensified military and police operations in the province through Executive Order 32. (Video by Joseph Cuevas)
A revered Catholic Church shrine in Parañaque and a building housing activist organizations in Quezon City complained of harassments Thursday, reporting that police officers and suspected military agents are out to further intimidate institutions and organizations critical of the Rodrigo Duterte regime.
In an alert, human rights group Karapatan said its national officers and staff members observed increased presence of suspected military and police agents within the vicinity of Erythrina Building in Barangay Central in Quezon City since morning.
The building houses Karapatan, National Union of People’s Lawyers, Kodao Productions and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, among other organizations.
Aside from armed men in civilian clothing surrounding the building, a small Philippine Army truck was seen parked nearby.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police officers had been swarming the Baclaran Church compound in Parañaque since Wednesday, forcing a bazaar meant to raise funds for indigenous peoples to suspend operations.
Instead of staying at the church gate, the police reportedly insisted on visiting the clergy’s living quarters because of an alleged bomb threat.
Baclaran Church, formally known as The National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, is known to regularly host indigenous peoples who suffer forced evacuation by the military.
The Redemptorist priests administering the shrine has yet to issue a formal statement but has reportedly asked the police to stay outside the church gate.
Karapatan blamed the activities on President Duterte’s latest tirade against human rights defenders.
“We are warning government forces – stop harassing rights defenders, lawyers and alternative media practitioners; and do not plant evidence in our offices. We shall make you accountable in different fora in time,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.
Karapatan later reported that suspected military and police agents circling the area have already left as of seven o’clock in the evening.
“We attribute this temporary respite to the vigilance of NUPL lawyers, human rights workers and staff members of Karapatan, Bayan and Kodao Productions, and allied lawyers and members of the media who responded to the call to monitor the increased presence and activity of suspected military agents and police in our offices,” Palabay said.
Karapatan said it will remain vigilant and defiant against any attempt to intimidate and harass their ranks as well as all human rights defenders and communities who bear witness to the Duterte regime’s repressive policies. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
The mother of the 14-year old survivor of Sagay Massacre last October filed charges against her ex-husband and police officers of Sagay Philippine National Police before the National Prosecution Services of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila, December 4.
In her complaint affidavit, Flor, mother of survivor “Lester” filed psychological violence charges in violation of Section 5 of Republic Act 9262 or the Violence Against Women and Children Act against Vic Pedaso.
Atty. Katherine Panguban, Flor’s lawyer said that her client experienced continuous harassment from Pedaso and wanted to get the custody of their child.
Flor also filed charges versus Sagay City police Chief Insp. Robert Mansueto, SPO1 Julie Ann Diaz, and PO Christine Magpusaw for violating the RA 6710 or the Child abuse Law and violation of the Supreme Court rules on the handling of child witnesses.
Panguban explained that Lester was forcibly taken and interrogated by the police after the massacre when no one is allowed to talk to a child witness unless accompanied by someone he trusts.
The police also wanted Lester to be the primary witness against his fellow survivors.
Atty. Josalee Deinla, spokesperson of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer hopes that the prosecution will transmit the case to the Court.
Atty. Deinla also said that last November 27 the Sagay Prosecutions Office filed kidnapping and serious illegal detention charges against her client Atty. Panguban but have yet to receive a copy of the compalint. (Video and report by Joseph Cuevas/ Kodao)
The Children’s Rehabilitation Center (CRC) condemns the illegal detention of Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro and other delegates of the National Solidarity Mission (NSM) in Davao del Norte since 9:30 pm last night November 28 by the combined elements of the 56th IB, Philippine National Police and Municipal Social Work and Development Officers.
CRC also denounces threats of Anti-Trafficking and violation of RA 7610 charges against the NSM delegation, after rescuing the Lumad people from further harassment of the army and ALAMARA in their community following the closure of the main school of Salugpongan Ta Tanu Igkakanon Learning Center Inc (STTILCI) in Dulyan, Davao del Norte yesterday November 28, 2018.
The escalation of military attacks on schools spread fear and paranoia among children in the schools of STTILCI and the Lumad communities in Mindanao.
CRC calls for the release of Rep. Satur Ocampo, Rep France Castro and the rest of the NSM. End Martial Law in Mindanao. Let the children study in their schools, pull out military troops from the Lumad communities. #
The Duterte regime has reached a new low with the filing of preposterous human trafficking and kidnapping charges against veteran journalist, activist and human rights advocate Satur Ocampo, ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro as they were on a fact-finding to aid beleaguered indigenous people in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.
The arts and media alliance, Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity demands the immediate release of Ocampo and Castro and their 17 companions.
The charges are baseless, meant to cover up the truth: That it is the paramilitary groups Alamara and Magahat Bagani, commanded by the Philippine Army, that lay waste to Lumad communities. They should be the ones facing charges as they have killed Lumad leaders, shut down schools, and driven off communities from ancestral lands that President Rodrigo Duterte has promised to business and foreign patrons.
Ocampo is a a columnist with The Philippine Star and chairperson of the Board of Directors of Bulatlat.com. He joined the 19-member National Humanitarian Mission that went to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring aid to the Lumad.
Ocampo and the rest of the mission accompanied the Lumad evacuees at the Talaingod police station to lodge complaints against the paramilitary group Alamara. To preempt the human rights case, cops concocted their lies.
The charge has no basis. The parents of 29 Lumad students provided written statements of recognition for the mission’s presence and purpose.
This afternoon, Ocampo and the others were taken to Kapalong District Hospital and eventually to the Tagum City Prosecutors Office for inquest proceedings.
We repeat: accusing Ocampo, who is all of 79 years old, of trumped-up charges of kidnapping and human trafficking is preposterous. We demand that the Talaingod PNP withdraw its charges against Satur Ocampo and he is set free immediately.
We warn the Duterte government that detaining an elderly journalist who is only acting on his convictions that are well within his rights would earn the greater condemnation of the journalistic community in the Philippines and the world. #
Davao del Norte police arrested ACT Teachers Party Representative France Castro, former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and 17 other human rights defenders who tried to rescue 74 victims of forced evacuation in Talaingod town and are being brought to Tagum City for inquest proceedings.
In an alert, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao Region said the 19 were illegally arrested and are being arbitrarily detained for nearly 18 hours already on malicious charges of kidnapping and human trafficking.
Members of the ongoing National Humanitarian Mission that included Castro and Ocampo rushed to Talaingod Wednesday night to bring food and other aid to Lumad civilians and students of the Salugpongan Ta Tano Igkanugon Community Learning Center in Sitio Sinilaban, Barangay Palma Gil.
Before reaching the community, however, they learned that members of the notorious Alamara paramilitary group under the command of the 56th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army forcibly closed the school and harassed students and teachers.
This forced the community to trek to Barangay Sto. Niño but were blocked by a combined army and police force.
On their way to meet the evacuees last night, vehicles used by mission delegates were hit with stones and their tires were punctured by spikes placed on the road.
At about 9:30 last night, the evacuees and mission members were taken to the police station in the area where they were detained.
Castro said they tried lodging complaints with the police but were told they themselves were subjects of investigation.
Earlier today, the police informed the group they are being charged with kidnapping and human trafficking.
The police took the 19 to Kapalong District Hospital for a medical check-up prior to being subjected to inquest proceedings at the Tagum Prosecutor’s Office this afternoon.
Karapatan national secretary general Cristina Palabay condemned the police for levelling charges against mission participants, including a sitting legislator.
“Ocampo and Castro are being threatened with fabricated charges of human trafficking, when they and other mission delegates were there to provide support and aid to Lumad residents, including children, who are facing daily threats and harassment from the military in the community,” Palabay said.
Karapatan demanded the immediate release of members of the mission and the Lumad students and teachers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)
“Ang dugo ni Ben Ramos ay gigising sa mas marami pang mananggol ng bayan, sa mga manananggol para sa interes ng bayan.”–Rep. Carlos Zarate, Bayan Muna
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) condemned the killing of one of its officers in Kabankalan City Tuesday night, November 6.
Atty. Benjamin Ramos, secretary general of NUPL-Negros Occidental Chapter died from four gunshot wounds fired by two motorcycle riding men.
“We are shocked, devastated and enraged at the premeditated cold-blooded murder of our colleague and fellow people’s lawyer, Atty. Benjamin Tarug Ramos, our Secretary General for the NUPL Negros Occidental Chapter,” the NUPL said in a statement.
Ramos was taking a break by a store in Barangay 5, near the public plaza of Kabankalan City, 103 kilometers south of the provincial capital Bacolod City, when shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen around 10:20 pm, Clarizza Singson of human rights group Karapatan said, quoting the victim’s wife, Clarissa.
Singson said Ramos was rushed to a hospital but was already dead from four gunshot wounds, three in the front and one in the back.
“Ben is the 34th lawyer killed under the two-year administration of President [Rodrigo] Duterte. Excluding judges and prosecutors, he is the 24th member of the profession killed and the eigth in the Visayas,” NUPL said.
Ramos was also the lawyer for six young activists accused and arrested of being New People’s Army fighters last year in Mabinay town in neighboring Negros Oriental.
The father of three was also a peasant advocate and had founded the farmers’ organization Paghiliusa Development Group.
“These beastly attacks by treacherous cowards cannot go on. Not a few of our members have been attacked and killed before while literally practicing their profession and advocacies in the courts, in rallies, in picket lines, in urban poor communities, and in fact-finding missions,” the NUPL said.
NUPL said Ramos was earlier “maliciously and irresponsibly tagged” in a public poster by the Philippine National Police as among the so-called personalities of the underground armed movement.
Ramos’ co-counsel for the Sagay massacre victims and survivors, Atty Katherin Panguban, was charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention reportedly filed by Vic Pedaso, biological father of “Lester”, a 14-year old witness-survivor of the Sagay massacre.
Human rights group Karapatan strongly condemned against Panguban, NUPL Women and Children’s Committee Head.
“These charges, which we can only presume to have been wildly concocted by the Negros police and other forces who want to divert the accountability of paramilitary forces and private armies of landlords, have no legal and factual basis, and are ill-intentioned and manufactured. It is lamentable that they have been using Mr. Pedaso to peddle and insist on lies regarding the roles of Atty. Panguban, NUPL and Karapatan in the case,” Karapatan said in a separate statement.
Karapatan said their group and the NUPL merely assisted Lester’s mother in obtaining custody of her child from the Sagay City Social Welfare and Development Office last October 25.
“The turn-over of custody was duly documented and Pedaso was present in the said turn-over, Karapatan said, adding Panguban represented Lester’s mother.
“There is absolutely no truth to allegations of Pedaso and the police that mother and son are being held against their will by Atty. Panguban, NUPL and Karapatan,” the group said.
Karapatan explained that the charges against Atty. Panguban are among the forms of intimidation by state forces against people’s lawyers.
“This incident once again exposes the vile intent of the police to go to great lengths to exploit relatives of victims and survivors and to use them for their slanted narratives,” Karapatan said, adding the charges against Atty. Panguban should be withdrawn or dropped immediately. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)