Karapatan say rights workers under surveillance, being harassed

Ratziel San Juan - Philstar.com
Karapatan say rights workers under surveillance, being harassed
In a press conference held on Oct. 7, 2019 with Kalikasan and Save Our Schools Network, Karapatan cited recent cases of online and offline harassment.
Karapatan, Release

MANILA, Philippines — Human rights monitor Karapatan on Monday condemned recent attacks against its workers, including threats of arrest against chairperson Elisa Tita Lubi, who is on medical leave.

In a press conference on Monday with Kalikasan and Save Our Schools Network, Karapatan cited recent cases of online and offline harassment.

Last Tuesday in Quezon City, an unidentified man on a motorcycle without a license plate took pictures of Karapatan National Council member Jose Mari Callueng and two other staff members without their consent.

Two days later, a different unidentified man on a black motorcycle took pictures of Callueng, Karapatan Vice-Chairperson Reylan Vergara, Deputy Secretary-General Roneo Clamor, and lawyer Maria Sol Taule. The group was on their way to file the final rejoinder in the perjury case filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Upon confrontation by Vergara and Clamor, the man denied taking pictures of the four Karapatan officers.

“We allege that police and military elements are behind all of these efforts of surveillance and intimidation, especially in connection to the poorly-fabricated perjury case filed against us by Esperon,” Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said.

Esperon filed perjury charges against Karapatan and two other organizations in July after the latter submitted petitions for writ of amparo and habeas data at the Supreme Court in May.

Karapatan said the harassment and surveillance experienced by its workers are a "systematic and organized effort to attack, intimidate, and vilify human rights defenders and our work of documenting and reporting rights violations.”

There were 89,534 counts of threat, harassment, and intimidation recorded by Karapatan between July 2016 and June 2019.

Palabay also said her vehicle was tailed last Thursday by the man who had earlier took pictures of Callueng and two Karapatan staff.

A blotter report has since been filed by Karapatan before barangay chairperson of Barangay Central on Saturday.

Karapatan also spoke out against a series of threats experienced by rights workers and activists in Negros Occidental.

Rights workers in northern and southern parts of Negros Occidental reported receiving death threats through social media and by an unknown mobile number.



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