Ilocos rights group hits PNP for harassment of UP studes, NGOs

>> Thursday, July 20, 2017

SUDIPEN, La Union – The Ilocos Human Rights Alliance, an alliance of human rights advocates in the Ilocos Region condemned threat and harassment allegedly perpetrated by cops of this town against students of the University of the Philippines Manila.
The students - Patricia Andrea S. Angeles, Glelil Charlotte A. Cabalitan, and Aries Raphael R. Pascua, all under the Development Studies Program were doing their research and advocacy work as part of their 2017 Summer Practicum when the incidents happened.
Their work was in coordination with the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (STOP Exploitation) and the North Luzon Amburayan Conference of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (NLAC-UCCP).
“Despite going through regular protocols, informing the local chief executives (from the provincial to the barangay level) and formal introduction by Rev. Nieves Sixto of UCCP San Francisco, members of PNP Sudipen put the students under surveillance,” they said in a statement. 
“The police also went to the house where they are staying and told the owner that they are members of the New People’s Army. Retired PNP Senior Supt. Noel Amoyen also allegedly informed the barangay chairman of San Jose that the students belong to the kabila (the other side) that made the official apprehensive towards them.”
“IHRA-KARAPATAN is alarmed that guests of an established religious institution like the UCCP are not spared from such violations from armed state agents.
The actions made against the students, whose presence in the area was co-facilitated by NLAC-UCCP are not just attack against civil liberties but to the institution and beliefs that NLAC-UCCP represents.
“Since the students are officially undertaking an activity that is part of UP Manila’s program, the PNP’s action can also be viewed as an affront to the university.
Under President Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan and Oplan Tokhang, more and more individuals are falling victims to human rights violations. Threat and harassment against people’s organizations, their leaders and members are on the rise in the region.”
Mary Ann Gabayan, deputy secretary of the alliance said same pattern of vilification and surveillance had been reported in Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur.
Last month, members of the 7th Infantry Division reportedly subjected the office of IHRA-KARAPATAN in Candon City to surveillance and harassed the staff.
The same unit reportedly also accused members of Anakbayan and STOP Exploitation in Barangay Bugnay, Candon City as members and supporters of the NPA. Troops under the 81st Infantry Battalion reportedly accused residents and officials opposing their encampments in communities and public places as NPA supporters.
“The objectives of the PNP, AFP and rightist individuals like retired Senior Supt. Amoyen are clear – they intend to instill fear and animosity towards progressive organizations and any efforts to organize and empower the people,’ Babayan said. “Without any guise, the military and police intend to project imaginary threats in order to curtail the people’s rights and liberties, and set the scene for a nationwide Martial law.”
“The local government of Sudipen should rectify these iniquitous and illegal actions, and reprimand all those who were involved in the incidents. At the very least, the PNP should issue an apology to the students and the host organizations.
IHRA-KARAPATAN challenges the Commission on Human Rights to take action against the “validation” and surveillance against innocent civilians. It also calls on the people to be more vigilant and relentless in asserting their rights, exposing the atrocities of the AFP and PNP and resisting the proposed extension and nationwide Martial Law.”   


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