From the pro-CPP Davao Today (Apr 4): Karapatan slams CIDG’s ‘wrongful arrest’ and ‘red-tagging’ of staff member
Human rights group Karapatan criticized government security elements for attempting to pull out and arrest its staff member during a protest caravan here on Thursday by alleging her as a New People’s Army leader.
Karapatan’s Hanimay Suazo said elements of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) tried to arrest a female human rights worker based in Compostela Valley, and who they identified only as ‘Ana’ to protect her identity.
The incident happened on Thursday noon when the group accompanied a contingent of farmers from Maco and Mawab towns of Compostela Valley to hold a rally outside the gate of the headquarters of the Armed Forces’ Eastern Mindanao Command in Panacan on the one year death anniversary of a boy allegedly killed in a military operation.
Ana told Davao Today that the contingent was stopped along Barangay Lasang by police and highway patrol members. As Karapatan members were negotiating with the police, elements of the CIDG approached Ana and handed her a warrant of arrest and told her to go with them to the CIDG.
Surprised, Ana demanded that she read the warrant, and found out that it contained names and aliases of people accused of murder, but could not find her name on it.
The warrant was allegedly against members of the NPA Front Committee 18 leaders.
“I refused to go with the CIDG,” Ana said. “My name was not there, but they insisted I was this alias ‘Evelyn’. They did not even bother to ask for my name or my identification.”
A news footage later that day showed a CIDG personnel bringing out a man who covered his face with a towel, and pointed at people in the caravan as NPA members. The CIDG claimed the man was a rebel returnee.
The intervention of other human rights workers and Bayan spokesperson Sheena Duazo stopped the CIDG from making the arrest. The police also relented and the protesters proceeded with their rally outside the Eastmincom and went home hours later.
Ana was incensed that the CIDG did not apologize to the people they caused trouble.
“They just told me to just cooperate to avoid any incident. But I told them are you doing your job well?”
Suazo said the CIDG’s move may have been meant to disrupt or at least delay their rally.
She described it as “erroneous arrests” and expressed fear that this may be part of a crackdown on activists and human rights defenders.
She said that government crackdown has tagged activists as communists and had led to arrests or assassinations.
“This could form part of the next phase of Oplan Bayanihan. Here you see the police, CIDG and law enforcers actively attacking human rights defenders and activists to silence them by filing fabricated charges,” Suazo said.
Tony Sakkalahul, Regional Manager of the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA) for ZamBas Region, who spearheaded the peace caravan in collaboration with youth and professional sectors, Chambers of Commerce, MILF political and civil committees, expressed the disappointment and dismay of the group of the disapproval of the police.
Accordingly, Isabela City Mayor Cherrylyn Santos did not approve the permission requested for the peace caravan.
Clad in full battle gear, the police instead formed a barricade to block the entry of the peace caravan into Isabela City.
“The participants from the different organizations who voluntarily joined the activity to manifest their support and gratitude to both the GPH and the MILF for striking the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) denounced the unpeaceful act by the police and the local government of Isabela for not allowing a peace caravan to be undertaken by the civil society groups,” Sakkalahul stressed.
“We were unhappy and dismayed upon knowing that the request for such activity was vehemently denied by the City’s Chief executive-Mayor Charrylyn Santos,” he said.
In an interview with Chavacano TV patrol reporter from Zamboanga (R.J. Rosalado) at the assembly place, he lamented “we are surprised by the decision of the City Mayor by not allowing us to enter the city proper because our activity is for peace and in support of the program of President Aquino. We are unarmed and in fact request and coordination letters were already sent properly 3 days prior to the scheduled activity. The communication was addressed to the offices of the City mayor, the City Police, the PNP ARMM provincial Command, the Army Special Forces and the Traffic Management Command but still the peace caravan was rejected.
The police barricades for a peaceful activity and assembly is a wanton violation and curtailment of basic rights of the people to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly as enshrined in the constitution, said Prof. Ahmad Al-Amin, an organizer representing the Autonomous Muslim Chamber of Commerce in Basilan.
However, the motorcade and simple program upon the facilitation and kind assistance from the PNP ARMM Provincial Command, decided to re-route its passage to the BDA office at Geras Village within the outskirts of Isabela instead of travelling around city proper to avoid unnecessary confrontation with the city police. A short program and Thanksgiving (DUWAA SALAMAT) where successfully held at the BDA Function Hall.
Aleem Kaiser A. Totoh, an spiritual adviser of the group gave a word of wisdom prior to the closing prayer (duwa-a), where he advised the participants to be patient and persevere for the Almighty Allah is the exalter and a master of all judgement of his owned creatures. He narrated the challenges and sad experiences of the Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) when he tried to enter Makkah Al Mukarrama from Madina during his propagation period. He likewise extended thanks and appreciation to the participants and the PNP ARMM provincial Command through Chief Inspector Bartolome for their efforts in providing security to the motorcades.