Print Version    Email to Friend
Harassment complaints filed against military and police

MANILA (Agencies) : A government employees’ union and a children’s rehabilitation organisation filed complaints together at the Commission on Human Rights on June 8 on the harassment and surveillance they experienced from military and police agents in Metro Manila. 

According to a statement of rights group, Karapatan, on June 8, at least five members and officers of Confederation of Unity of Recognition and Advancement for Government Employees (COURAGE) received letters on April 27, listing down their involvement with the union and alleging that they were linked to the New People’s Army. 

Those who received such letters included staff members of National Food Authority, National Food Authority Employees Association as well as the Social Welfare Employees Association under the Department of Social Welfare and Development. 

Ferdie Gaite, chairperson of COURAGE, said the move indicates a worsening trend of political repression against union organisers and is an attempt to disrupt the organisations’ activities and terrorise people involved in development and human rights work. He said he believes after the arrest of COURAGE organisers Raul Camposano and Randy Vegas in 2012 based on trumped-up charges, the military and police continue to violate the workers’ rights to form unions or organisations.

The statement said that, a man, who introduced himself only as
Sergeant Borres or an liaison officer of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of The Philippines, entered the National Food Authority premises on April 21 looking for Hilario Tan, a retired employee and Evelyn Garcia, former vice president of the National Food Authority Employees Association. He was stopped by the lobby guard and brought to the security service office for questioning because he was carrying a .45 calibre pistol. The security personnel asked Borres for a mission order but he could not produce one, so he left.

On the other hand, registered social workers Madella Santiago of the Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concerns and Eilekrenes Manano of the Children’s Rehabilitation Centre  (CRC) said they were tailed by suspected agents of the military and police from May 14 to 16. 

Kharlo Manano, secretary general of Salinlahi said, “This is a clear act of harassment and reprisal on our active opposition to government policies and programmes that are not beneficial for Filipino children or their families.” 

According to him, the CRC has been documenting cases and providing services to children victims of human rights violations perpetrated by the Armed Forces of The Philippines and its paramilitary groups for almost three decades. As for Salinlahi, it has been vocal in opposing the increasing cases of military attacks and encampment on schools particularly in peasant and indigenous peoples’ communities.

Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said, “the trend of harassment and surveillance of members and officers of unions and progressive people’s organisations puts their lives and work at increasing risk.” She believes such forms of rights violations are part of the counter-insurgency programme, Oplan Bayanihan. “This policy and practice should stop,” she added. 

 

Karapatan documented 125,061 victims of threats and harassment under the administration of the current Philippine president, Noynoy Aquino. Most of the victims are based in the rural areas.