Groups decry arrests of 10 activists over the weekend
Multi-sectoral organizations on Oct. 6, 2019 denounced the recent arrest of ten activists in the span of three days, which they said is evidence of ‘de-facto’ or unofficial martial law in the country.
KJ Rosales / File

Groups decry arrests of 10 activists over the weekend

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - October 7, 2019 - 1:36pm

MANILA, Philippines — Activist groups on Sunday denounced the arrests of ten activists between October 2 and October 4, which they said is evidence of ‘de facto’ or unofficial martial law in the country.

Mindanao has been under martial law since May 2017, when the Marawi Siege started, while a September 2016 declaration of a state of national emergency is still in force.

Police arrested seven human rights workers in Palawan on Friday, while three peasant activists were apprehended in Northern Samar on Wednesday.

The addition of 10 more political prisoners in such a short amount of time shows the government's blatant disrespect for constitutionally-guaranteed rights, fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA) said in a release.

“Ang mga aktibista sa mga probinsya, mag-organisa at maglunsad lang ng mga aktibidad ay agarang ginagawan ng kaso at pinagbibintangang [New People's Army],” PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said.

(Activists in the provinces are just organizing and conducting activities and are charged and accused of being NPA)

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There were at least 1,850 victims of illegal arrest without detention and 593 victims of illegal arrest and detention recorded between July 2016 and July 2019, data from human rights monitor Karapatan shows.

PAMALAKAYA called for the immediate and unconditional release of the apprehended activists and demanded the accountability of government forces involved.

Rights workers arrested; Police say they are suspected NPA members

Karapatan also condemned the Friday arrest of rights workers in Palawan, which they said was illegal and warrantless.

Karapatan - Southern Tagalog Secretary General Glendhyl Malabanan and six other rights workers were reportedly arrested by combined elements of the PNP and AFP in Puerto Princesa City.

The group was conducting a fact-finding investigation on reports of military-linked human rights violations against farmers in Taytay town.

“We have seen this happen already in countless other cases,” Palabay said.

“The state is already desperate and exhausting its old and tired tactics of illegal, warrantless arrests, planting of evidence, and filing of trumped-up charges to vilify and discredit human rights work as ‘terrorism.’”

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