Stop Harassing Development Workers

by Citizens' Disaster Response Center

January 12, 2023

CDRC welcomes 2023 with renewed commitment to strengthen community resilience.

As we leave 2022, we bring along valuable lessons from our rich experiences in responding to disasters that affected communities nationwide. We had successfully overcome the difficulties brought about by the lockdown imposed due to COVID 19 pandemic.

Vulnerable communities which experienced typhoons that have become more fierce, like typhoon Odette (I.N. Rai) which hit the country in 2021, due to climate change have not fully recovered. Power still has to be restored in small island barangays of Surigao a year after the onslaught of the disaster.

Amidst our efforts along with our regional partners to provide services to the least served communities, we are deeply saddened by the continuous red tagging and harassment of development workers. Forms of harassment ranged from broadcasting of false accusations to outright surveillance of staff and volunteers, arousing fear and anxiety among staff and volunteers. This has greatly limited the delivery of badly needed assistance to communities which have been deprived of basic services. Some regional partners had limited their services, downsized or even temporarily suspended operations to ensure the safety of their staff and volunteers.

As the year ended, CDRC’s national office was once again harassed when one of its staff was discreetly approached by pseudo-government agents posting as employees of a national agency tasked to implement the AMLA, as amended by Republic Act Nos. 9194, 10167, and 10365, as well Republic Act No. 10168. They boldly courted his cooperation in exchange for protection from an imminent raid. They clearly hinted on doing surveillance on the office’s activities.

CDRC, being the pioneer in community-based disaster management (CBDM) stands by the legitimacy of its activities that relentlessly promote disaster preparedness for the past 38 years. Beyond giving emergency relief during disasters, CBDM includes addressing the root causes of peoples’ vulnerability to disasters and exhorting people from various sectors to organize and actively participate in building disaster-resilient communities. CDRC has actively collaborated with local government units in providing emergency reliefs to disaster-affected communities and with national disaster risk reduction (DRR) agencies like the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) and National Anti-Poverty Commission-Victims of Disasters and Calamities (NAPC-VDC) Sector in implementing the national DRRM plans.

We strongly denounce this act of harassment and intimidation and hold the state responsible should any harm come to our office or to any of its staff.

We have kept quiet on this matter during the holidays to allow a modicum of celebratory spirit to prevail while we struggled to respond to the ravages of floods and shear line in Mindanao.

But in light of recent reports of harassment of progressive individuals, CDRC joins the community of development workers and progressive individuals in condemning all forms of harassment. It strongly supports the Commission on Human Rights’ (CHR) stand against any form of intimidation, harassment, and threat to life which assaults people’s freedom and dignity.

For Reference:
Research, Public Information Dept. (RPID)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article is that of the author only and do not necessarily represent the views of their organization nor of the CPDG.