The 49th commemoration of Martial Law last September 21 saw progressives harassed by police, while expressing their condemnation of the Marcos dictatorship. In the span of the same week, a cultural worker was arrested in Bulacan, while the Lumads suffered yet another harassment from state forces.
Here are the human rights violations reported this week.
September 19 – San Jose del Monte, Bulacan
Lumad Community Schools’ Volunteer and cultural worker Lorena Sigua was forced to surrender by police in civilian clothing over a trumped-up charge of murder, Concerned Artists of the Philippines says.
Sigua is currently in detainment at the San Jose Del Monte Police Station.
Without the presence of her legal counsel, she allegedly suffered from psychological torture due to the various interrogation and intimidations conducted by state agents.
Sigua was a production manager of Amado V. Hernandez Resource Center where she conducted cultural workshops among organized workers. She was also a member of the Concerned Students for Justice and Peace in UP Diliman.
September 21 – Santiago City, Isabela
Farmers from organizations Danggayan dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela (DAGAMI), Unyon ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura (UMA), Amihan at Migrante Isabela were harassed and held by police at a checkpoint in Junction Sta. Maria, Isabela. This was after the farmers attended Ecumenical Prayer Services and a public awareness caravan to commemorate the 49th anniversary of Martial Law.
The police, led by one “Seriles”, told members of the said groups that they were being held because they had joined the rally. The police then went on to accuse them of being members of the New People’s Army (NPA).
The farmers’ belongings, including IDs, posters, and stickers that read “Stop the Killings! Duterte, Wakasan Na!” were taken and photographed while being held by the farmers. Relief supplies and hygiene kits that were to be distributed to the poor were also searched by the police without a warrant.
A day before the activity took place, soldiers commanded by Sgt. Balacanao used a false surrenderee in Sta. Maria to try to learn how and where the sugarcane workers would mobilize last September 21. Leaders and members of UMA Isabela in Sta. Maria are also continuously being monitored by police and military.
September 21 – [Multiple locations]
The police used their clubs and shields to disperse protesters in Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila, College Editors Guild of the Philippines reports.
According to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) secretary general Renato Reyes, two main roads leading to Liwasang Bonifacio had been blocked by police. The Manila Police District (MPD) Public Information Office (PIO) said that they have an annual deployment plan to handle Martial Law protests. However, Reyes expressed that the MPD PIO did not explain why they blocked the protesters.
In Escolta Street, Manila, protesters were also dispersed by authorities, with the firefighters using their water cannons on the rallyists.
In Trece Martires, Cavite, three protesters were surrounded by a police mobile and were forced to join them to the police station. The protesters’ speaker set and other materials were also confiscated.
In Sto. Tomas, Batangas, 14 activists were prohibited by the police from leaving the protest area after the program, as they allegedly violated General Community Quarantine (GCQ) guidelines. This is despite the protesters’ insistence that they followed minimum health standards by wearing face masks and face shields, while maintaining social distancing.
September 22 [date reported] – Talaingod, Davao del Norte
Armed soldiers forced the family of Lumad Leader and environmentalist Bai Bibyaon Ligkayan Bigkay to surrender her from her sanctuary, Save Our Schools Network says.
Last September 18, the 56th Infantry Battalion stormed into Sitio Natulinan, Brgy. Palma Gil, Talaingod, Davao Del Norte, forcing Bai Bibyaon’s relatives to sign a document aiming to retrieve her from her sanctuary.
It has been decades since Bai Bibyaon started defending the ancestral lands of Western Mindanao from militarization and harassment. Bai Bibyaon, who is the first and only female Manobo Chieftain and is considered as the “Mother of the Lumads”, led the construction of several Lumad schools.
Bai Bibyaon’s relatives are currently being held in the townhall of Talaingod, where they have been brought by the municipality’s military and local government unit.
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.