LIST: Human rights watch (August 8 – 14, 2021)

This week saw more COVID-19 variants entering the country, billions being reportedly lost in state funds, and more positive cases and deaths being reported by the minute.

While no physical blood was shed recently, this week saw about four cases of harassment from state forces.

Here are all of the reported human rights violations this week.

August 11 – Brgy. Pulong Sta. Cruz, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna

Unionists and officials of Aichi Forge Philippines, Inc. were harassed anew after the company’s human resources (HR) department was visited by one “Sgt. Andres,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Laguna says.

The mulitsectoral alliance claimed that “Sgt. Andres” demanded the department of the names of the workers who posted calls for the release of Laguna 5: Mendoza, Mags Camoral, Nimfa Lanzanas, Arnedo Lagunias, and Ramir Corcolon.

While the latter two are labor leaders who were arrested on March 4, the other three were arrested three days later, during Bloody Sunday. Their homes reportedly planted with firearms and explosives. (READ: 2 lider-unyon sa Laguna, inaresto sa magkaparehong araw).

Last week also, Aichi workers residing in the area were harassed by elements of National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) while the former were in their own homes (READ: LIST – Human rights watch (August 1 – 7, 2021).

August 12 – Sitio Sampinit, Brgy. Libertad, Escalante City, Negros Occidental

The home of political prisoner Joel Guillero’s family was surrounded last August 12 by fully armed military personnel, Karapatan Negros Island says.

With 13 soldiers being spotted, the human rights alliance explained that the personnel were interrogating the family over Guillero’s whereabouts.

Joel Guillero is also a member of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) North Negros, who was arrested last September 2019 following waves of intimidation and harassment. Guillero was arrested with seven other progressives that composed the informally named “Escalante 8.” Northern Negros Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (NNAHRA) explained in a Bulatlat report that planted weapons played a part in the eight’s arrest.

“Amidst heightened restrictions bought upon by the COVID 19 pandemic, 86, 660 active cases and almost 30, 000 total deaths, the AFP-PNP continues to spread terror amongst the Filipino people, particularly in the countrysides of Negros Island,” Karapatan Negros Island condemned.

(RELATED STORIES: Soldiers take couple from Negros, 2-month old baby, then red-tags mother, Negros activist shot dead; groups remain firm against attacks)

August 13 – Brgy. Lahug, Tapaz, Capiz

Members of the Philippine Army were said to have confiscated the phones of Tumandok residents living in the area, human rights group Panay Alliance Karapatan says.

The alliance condemned that “if this is true, this is tantamount to divestment of property and violates the rights of the residents to the things that they own. In addition, accessing any information contained in the mobile phones of the residents violates their right to privacy of communication. Both are offen[s]es that are incompatible with the conduct of officers of the law.”

Brgy. Lahug in Tapaz, Capiz was also where nine members of the Tumandok community were killed, with 18 more arrested due to military operations in the area. The nine killed were all protesting the development of Jalaur Mega Dam in Calinog, Iloilo, a project that is involved with displacing Tumandok families from their ancestral lands (READ: 9 Tumandok IP pinaslang, 18 inaresto sa Capiz).

August 12 – [location undisclosed]

Bahaghari says that the LGBTQ+ rights group’s national spokesperson Rey Valmores-Salines was “stalked by a suspected state agent,” following a separate incident last July 23 that involved an unidentified man trailing her. The group added that since 2020, Valmores-Salines was put under surveillance.

In response, Bahaghari condemned the continued harassment on progressives, saying that “instead of wasting public funds on red-tagging and surveillance of LGBTQ+ advocates, Duterte should provide services for the LGBTQ+: certify as urgent the SOGIE Equality Bill, and provide ayuda and health-based solutions to the pandemic!” [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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