March 13, 2022
With less than three months remaining in office, the Duterte administration is relentless in violating people’s rights and displaying gross impunity.
“The appointment of Jose Lorenzo Dela Rosa on March 7. 2022 as an associate justice in the Court of Appeals (CA) shows President Rodrigo Duterte’s continuing contempt against the critical civil society, activists, and rights defenders”, said CPDG spokesperson Liza Maza.
Dela Rosa is among the judges instrumental in issuing several warrants of arrests that were used by the provincial units of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in its simultaneous raids on March 7, 2021 now known as the Bloody Sunday Massacre. Maza added, “to think that this marked the first anniversary of such an atrocious act speaks of Pres. Duterte’s gross disregard for human rights, justice, and peace”.
In a tribute and commemoration program themed “Sow Justice, Harvest Peace: The Unwavering Salute to Bloody Sunday Martyrs” by Defend Southern Tagalog at the Bulwagan Diokno, Commission on Human Rights held on the same day, human rights defenders highlighted that redtagging serves as a death sentence for persecuted activists.
One of the most recent cases was the vilification of Presidential candidate and current Vice President Leni Robredo and her huge crowd of supporters in the proclamation rally in General Trias (GenTri), Cavite. But a month prior, Anakpawis coordinators in different provinces have already been experiencing various forms of harassment since January.
Cavite’s 7th District representative Boying Remulla claimed that the participants in the GenTri rally received money for showing up. Presidential aspirant Panfilo ‘Ping’ Lacson thereafter warned of a possible coalition government with the Communist Party of the Philippines should Vice President Leni Robredo win at the 2022 national elections. Maza said that Lacson’s malicious tirades only show that he is untrue to his ideals for peace and democracy.
“Such redtagging even of electoral candidates and their supporters is an outright violation of the Filipino people’s democratic rights which includes rights to their political beliefs and expressions. Such rights are covered by the Philippine Constitution and international human rights covenants where the Philippines is a signatory,” said Maza.
Redtagging and vilification of activists, rights defenders, and critical civil society intensified under Pres. Duterte’s tyrannical governance especially through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict or NTF-ELCAC. The continuing redtagging spree creates a chilling effect among civil society and further constricts the spaces for democratic governance and development. Maza pointed out that it is discriminatory as it perpetuates divide, social exclusion, and creates a chilling effect to redtagged individuals, organizations, and civil society,
Following the Bloody Sunday Massacre’s anniversary, separate incidents of rights violations were reported from the provinces of Cavite and Laguna. In Laguna, Red Clado, an Alyansa ng Manggagawa sa Probinsya ng Laguna (ALMAPILA) staff was “visited” by two unidentified men suspected as police officers. The two accused Clado of being a “high-ranking” activist and told his parents that they need to “talk” to him.
On March 10, two separate cases of arbitrary arrests made in broad daylight by provincial units of PNP Cavite were reported. Ten individuals including Anakpawis organizers Charlie Aquino, Richard Felipe, and community leader Johmelda Lucernas were arrested in Sitio Silangan, an area under threat of demolition in Brgy. Talaba, Bacoor. In Brgy. Kaong, Silang, Teatro Kabataan Mula sa Nayon (TEKAMUNA) spokesperson Jonathan “Athan” Mercado was abducted by police officers.
Even before Bloody Sunday and these recent incidents, the people of Southern Tagalog provinces face non-stop violations from State forces. Repression and rights violations persist despite the Department of Justice’s Administrative Order 35 which probes the massacre that transpired last year.
“Regardless of desperate attempts to discourage legitimate expressions of dissent and peoples’ struggles, the continuing perseverance of the people’s movement to reclaim and assert democratic spaces, rights, and freedoms since the Marcos Dictatorship up to the tyrannical Duterte administration teaches a lesson that political and economic crisis fuels resistance. All candidates should learn from this and very well think how to respond to people’s long-standing demands come and after the elections on the 9th of May,” Maza ended. #