Benguet groups condemn harassment of youth leader
BAGUIO CITY— Activist organizations condemn the surveillance and harassment of a Cordillera youth leader by two men suspected to be state security agents.
Benguet indigenous youth leader Rima Mangili-Libongen had been subjected to surveillance, harassment and vilification by suspected state security agents since May this year, the Kabenguetan Agkaykaysa nga Ilaban ken Aywanan ti Biag, Daga, ken Kinabaknang, or Benguet Unite to Defend and Nurture Life, Land, and Resources (Kaiabang) and the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA)-Benguet Chapter said.
Kaiabang said the two suspects could only aim to intimidate Mangili-Libongen into stopping her leadership and organizing work, which colleagues fear may go beyond stalking and harassment.
Mangili-Libongen is a member of the famed music group Salidummay and Secretary General of Bileg ken Urnos dagiti Agtutubo nga Ybenguet (Buday, Strength and Unity of the Benguet Youth).
A 35-year old mother of three and residing in Ucab, Itogon, Benguet, Mangili-Libongen had been organizing youth and children for the theater arts and the Cordillera people’s movement since her college days at the Benguet State University in the early 2000s.
Mangili-Libongen has been tailed in Itogon where she lives and in this city, with one of the suspects monitoring the proceedings of the youth assembly she facilitated at the Itogon town training center in Bua, Tuding last May 30, the group said.
The harassment reportedly continued until the early morning of June 3 while Mangili-Libongen was at Shopper’s Lane in Baguio City with one of the suspects grabbing her forearm.
The man only released Mangili-Libongen’s arm when shopkeepers and passersby took notice.
The two men immediately left, Kaiabang said.
After the incident, Rima received a text from an unknown number saying, “Marami ka palang pinupuntahang lugar” (So you go to many places).
Alarmed that she may be harassed again, Mangili-Libongen changed her phone number but received another text message on June 8 that said “Tukoy ka na.” (You’ve been pinpointed.)
Impunity under Duterte
The CPA for its part said it could only be state agents who are behind the incidents.
“Comfortable in the impunity afforded them by the present dispensation, the military and police are capable of anything these days – as they were at the time of Marcos’s Martial Law and Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya,” the CPA said.
In April, rights group Karapatan submitted to the United National Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights a list of 47 cases of political extrajudicial killings under the Rodrigo Duterte government.
“These killings are all in the context of the counter-insurgency programs implemented from one regime to another that supposedly seek to end the armed rebellion of revolutionary movements in the Philippines,” Karapatan in its letter said.
“The victims of killings are peasants, indigenous peoples and workers. Many faced harassment and villification by the military because of their advocacy and actions to defend people’s rights and are thus considered as human rights defenders,” the group added. # (Olga Lauzon/Northern Dispatch for Kodao Productions. Featured image from the CPA.)