LIST: Human rights watch (July 25 – 31, 2021)

Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s olympic victory became the talk of the town, as it was the first in several years when a Filipino was able to secure a gold medal in the Olympic Games.

Diaz, herself too a victim of red-tagging from the national government, overshadowed Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA) with her landmark win. For most, Duterte’s words were nothing more than ramblings, devoid of any substance nor significance.

As the nation celebrated, however, activists, labor leaders, farmers, and many others faced the sharp end of the stick from the state. Arrests, killings, and forms of intimidation were reported all across the Philippines.

Here are all of the human rights violations that took place this week.

A screenshot of the death threats. Photo from Anakbayan Laguna.

July 25 [date reported] – Bicol

A student from is a student of Bicol University – Institute of Physical Education, Sports and Recreation (BU-IPESR) received death threats a day before his scheduled hearing last July 22, Rise for Education (R4E) Bicol University said.

John Robert Balino is a witness to the case being filed against Sasah Sta. Rosa, Justine Mesias and Pastor Dan Balucio who was illegally arrested last May 2 in Bicol. Anakbayan said it’s clear that this was meant to shake the pending case from the allegations made by the PNP and CIDG.

July 25 – Calape, Bohol

Military personnel are stationed in coconut farms in Calape, Bohol, leaving the farmers unable to tend to their land, Hugpong sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon-Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (HUMABOL-KMP) said in a report from ANINAW Productions.

The farmer group added that due to the military “frisking” people and being seen hiding areas near their coconut farms, local farmers fear for their lives. This in-turn severely affected their livelihoods.

More than two truckloads of military personnel were said to have been deployed to the area since July 15, the report continued.

July 25 – Mandaue City, Cebu

Members of local urban poor organization Tipolo Residents’ Association-Kadamay (TRA-Kadamay) were approached and intimidated by Mandaue City Police Officers, ANINAW Productions reported.

Witnesses say that a white van with tinted windows arrived at the residents’ evacuation site in Cebu International Convention Center (CICC). While the van immediately left, a police patrol car soon went to the vicinity.

The police asked how many of the evacuees are members of TRA-Kadamay, further inquiring the group if they will conduct a mobilization during the SONA. The police even tried to convince the evacuees to join a feeding program instead.

According to Panaghugpong-Kadamay Cebu, the intimidation that was done is a manifestation of the Duterte administration’s fear that his final SONA will be met with protests, and that its incompetence will be exposed.

July 26 – North Caloocan, Metro Manila

Ten members of workers’ organization Partido Manggagawa (PM) – Bulacan were apprehended in North Caloocan while on their way to a mobilization for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s final SONA last July 26, The Philippine Star reported.

“Police said [that they were apprehended for] violation of social distancing, but they were wearing face masks and face shields. This is plain harassment against anti-SONA protesters [and] transgression of freedom of assembly,” PM spokesperson Wilson Fortaleza said.

Fortaleza further said that the protesters’ placards and banners were confiscated by the police.

The protesters were soon released afternoon of the same day after a visit from a Commission on Human Rights team and upon getting a violation ticket.

The crime scene in Badao Bridge. Photo from Anakbayan Laguna.

July 26 – Brgy. Banao, Guinobatan, Albay

Defend Bicol Stop the Attacks Network said that activists Jemar Palero and Marlon Naperi were shot dead by police after the pair were spray-painting a call for Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s ouster by Banao Bridge in Brgy. Banao, Guinobatan, Albay.

This happened on the dawn before the latter’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA), last July 26, with the two unarmed Guinobatan locals carrying out the deed as part of their “Operation Pinta (OP).” Only the words “DUTERTE IBAGS” remained on the concrete before their deaths.

Defend Bicol adds that Palero, 22, was a member of farmer alliance Oragnisasyon ng mga Magsasaka sa Albay (OMA) while Naprei, 38, was a part of human rights group Albay People’s Organization (APO).

July 26 – Zambales

Four individuals from the Zambales 11 had reportedly been threatened by the police, according to national democratic mass organization Anakbayan in a Facebook post.

The said victims were taunted by the police to not attend the #WakaSONA protest prior to Duterte’s last SONA, or else them and their family will face imprisonment.

Anakbayan also mentioned that the Zambales 11 [with the addition of their driver] were illegally arrested by the police last Mayo Uno for allegedly “violating health protocals.”

When they were imprisoned however, the said individuals were verbally harassed and red-tagged by the police instead for exercising their right to protest against tyranny and fascism by the Duterte administration, Anakbayan said (READ: Zambales 12, nakalaya na matapos i-redtag, iharass ng pulis).

July 29 – Batangas

Alaiza Lemita, sister of one Bloody Sunday massacre victim, received a subpoena over trumped-up “multiple attempted murder” charges that is related to an already resolved case way back 2017, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Batangas says.

Her sister, Chai Lemita-Evangelista, was among the nine progressives brtually murdered during the COPLAN ASVAL last March 7.

BAYAN Batangas expressed that the serving of subpoena is yet another manifestation of red-tagging and terror-tagging that shows the fascist administration’s harassment on the Lemitas. As the said family is comprised of farmers and fisherfolks, the Lemitas are those primarily fighting for rights to till and fish in Hacienda Looc, Nasugbu, Batangas.

Last 2014, when Alaiza was still 17 years old, she was already illegally arrested along with her other relatives. The warrant was served in the same house where her sister and brother-in-law Chai and Ariel Evangelista were murdered.

July 29 – Quezon

Human rights progressive organization Tanggol-Quezon blasted General Norwyn Tolentino of the 201st brigade for his harmful accusations of them being “part of the CPP-NPA [Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army],” in a press statement last July 29.

The said organization also denounced Tolentino for demanding human rights activists Antonio and Marilyn Pajalla from the Anakpawis Partylist to start “clearing their names” through attending forums.

Tanggol-Quezon then proceeded to correct Tolentino’s claims, as they explained that their registered organization is indeed legitimate and legal by the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) and other government agencies. According to Tanggol-Quezon, Tolentino is also known for his fellowship with another general named Antonio Parlade, labelled as the “Red-Tagger King” among human rights activists.

July 31 – Brgy. Malbog, Buenavista, Marinduque

Logger and resident Alberto Delos Reyes was shot dead by a policeman while working, National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) Laguna said.

According to the student alliance, Delos Reyes sustained around five to six gunshots to his neck. The incident was witnessed by his 10-year-old son, who was with Delos Reyes when he accepted a log job in decluttering a coconut tree in Sitio Pag-asa, Brgy. Bagtingon as a result of continuous rains.

The suspect is currently at large, and their motive remains a mystery. [P]

Human Rights Watch is a weekly collation of human rights news stories gathered from different sources by UPLB Perspective. This initiative was launched in response to the sweeping number of human rights violations (HRVs) among various sectors across the country.

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