Human rights defenders illegally arrested on International Human Rights Day, PNP-CIDG on a spree of evidence planting

Stop the attacks and political crackdown!
Human rights defenders illegally arrested on International Human Rights Day, PNP-CIDG on a spree of evidence planting

Manila, Philippines — Even on International Human Rights Day, there is no let-up on the attacks against human rights defenders, according to the progressive party-list Anakpawis.

“We strongly condemn the arrests of trade union organizers Mark Ryan Cruz, Romina Astudillo, Jaymie Dela Cruz, Dennise Velasco, Joel Demate, and alternative media journalist Lady Ann Salem.”

“Duterte spits on our democratic rights. The illegal arrests were a state-sponsored mockery of International Human Rights Day and vicious attacks against human rights defenders,” Ariel Casilao, former Anakpawis Party-list Representative said in a statement.

The PNP-CIDG National Capital Region implemented an alleged ‘intensified campaign against loose firearms and criminal gangs’ but went on an illegal arrest and evidence-planting spree against six labor union organizers and an alternative media journalist.

The activists were arrested in simultaneous raids in Quezon City, Mandaluyong, and Manila early morning Thursday. The arrests were based on 5 search warrants issued by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilia Villavert.

“The series of arrests today were part of a comprehensive and systematic political crackdown, and not mere anti-crime operations. The arrests bear the trademark of the notorious tandem of Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert and PNP Chief Major Gen. Debold Sinas,” the former solon added.

Judge Burgos-Villavert, Anakpawis added, was the same judge who issued the warrants that led to the raid of offices and arrest of activists in Negros on October 31, 2019 and the sucessive arrests of activists in Metro Manila, including Reina Mae Nasino.

The arrests came after President Duterte launched a renewed tirade against human rights advocates. He said in a speech: “Human rights, you are preoccupied with the lives of the criminals and drug pushers. As mayor and as president, I have to protect every man, woman, and child from the dangers of drugs. The game is killing…I say to the human rights, I don’t give a shit with you. My order is still the same. Because I am angry.”
“The simultaneous police operations were a cogent evidence of President Rodrigo Duterte’s tyranny and de facto martial law, aside from the mounting cases of extra-judicial killings against peasants and activists throughout the country,”

This is a dangerous precedent and should cause an alarm, as this is not exclusive to activists who are labelled national democrats and usually red-tagged, but a plain and simple absolutist rule of Duterte where dissent is nipped in the bud via mass arrests on planted evidence and fabricated charges, and worst, outright murder,” Casilao ended. ###

In the above photo is trade union organizer Dennise Velasco (left) and alternative media journalist Lady Ann Salem (right).

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