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)