By Jeffrey Damicog
Three groups have also sought a protection order from the Supreme Court (SC) against possible threats from the government which has tagged them as being affiliated with Communist rebels.
Assisted by lawyers from the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Karapatan Alliance Philippines, Inc., the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP), and the General Assembly of Women for Reforms, Integrity, Equality, Leadership and Action, Inc. (Gabriela) have filed a petition on Monday (May 6) seeking for the issuance of a writ of amparo and habeas data.
They named as respondents President Rodrigo Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr., Brig. Gen, Fernando Trinidad, Maj. Gen. Erwin Neri, Maj. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., Lt. Gen. Macairog Sabiniano Alberto, National Intelligence Coordinating Council (NICA) Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo, NICA Deputy Director General Vicente Agdamag, Police Sr. Supt. Omega Jireh Fidel, and Undersecretaries Joel Egco, Severo Catura, and Lorraine Marie Badoy.
In their 45-page petition, the petitioners alleged that “it is very clear that Respondents, acting directly and indirectly, violated and continue to violate Petitioners’ rights to life, liberty and security.”
“Petitioners, who are legitimate organizations, recognized both here and abroad, including their officers and members, have become open targets of human rights violations. The glaringly numerous incidents of threats, harassment, and killings are aimed at curtailing their rights to freely exercise their advocacies,” they stated.
Because of this, the petitioners sought the writ of amparo which it said is “a remedy to any person whose right to life, liberty, and security is transgressed or are threatened to be violated by an unlawful act or omission of a public officer or private entities”, while, “the writ of habeas data is available to any person whose right to privacy in life, liberty or security is violated or threatened by an unlawful act of any public official or of a private individual or entity engaged in the gathering, collecting or storing of data or information.”
Karapatan cited it’s “staunch advocacy and human rights work, its officers and members have become open targets of various, ironically, human rights violations.”
They cited that President Rodrigo Duterte has “red-tagged and vilified Karapatan for a total of six times in his public and official speeches and press conferences.
“He practically declared an open season against Karapatan’s officers and members by threatening to go after the organization, which he alleged to be a ‘legal front’ of the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and the NPA (New People’s Army),” they lamented.
Likewise, the petitioners said “RMP’s members and missionaries have been subjected to the same red-baiting tactics and political persecution.”
“Ludicrous criminal charges filed against petitioners’ members have locked some of them up in jail and have even thrown one of its foreign missionaries out of the country. Worse, one of its members became a victim of extrajudicial killings,” the petitioners cited the experiences of the RMP.
They also indicated that Gabriela’s members have been also slapped with malicious and baseless trumped-up charges; became targets of continuous harassments and other human rights violations; and heavy surveillance.
“Petitioner GABRIELA‘s consistence and prominence in the local and international arena of the struggle for the recognition and protection of women human rights has put them at the crosshairs of the present administration run by herein public respondents. As such, they are vilified and arbitrarily labeled as one of those communist-terrorist front organizations by public respondents in their efforts to discredit them before the European governments and organizations that have been supporting petitioner GABRIELA’s programs and advocacies for marginalized women,” the petitioners said.