By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Human rights organizations, environmental groups and a local government official of Ilocos Sur called for the immediate release of Sherwin De Vera, an environmental activist and writer, illegally arrested yesterday, December 12, between 6-6:30 PM.
Defend Ilocos, Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA) and Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) among others in separate statements condemned the arrest of Sherwin De Vera, called for his immediate release and that the trumped-up charges against him be dropped immediately.
“I vehemently condemn the arrest and trumped up rebellion charges against Sherwin De Vera,” Jeremy Bueno, vice mayor of Santa, Ilocos Sur posted on his social media account.
De Vera is now in the custody of the Criminal Investigation and Detention Group (CIDG) in Bangued, Abra.
De Vera, a human rights and environmental activist, was arrested at a checkpoint in Barangay Bulag, Bantay, Ilocos Sur around 6:30PM while on his way home from Candon City. He was detained overnight at Camp Elpidio Quirino before he was brought to Abra.
De Vera is facing charges of rebellion (Case No. 2014-155) filed at a Court in Bangued.
Last July 18, De Vera had been tailed by unidentified men while he was going around on some errands in Vigan City, Ilocos Sur. The following day, unidentified men believed to be military agents went to the University of the Northern Philippines (UNP) in Vigan and asked De Vera’s whereabouts from the people he visited the previous day.
De Vera writes a column, Ilocandia Rumblings, for Northern Dispatch Weekly. He is also a researcher of the Regional Development Center-Katinnulong dagiti Umili ti Amianan a Luzon (RDC-KADUAMI).
“My arrest is a testament of Duterte’s crackdown on political dissent. The lurking martial law and tyranny is now at hand. Our democracy, our democratic rights are now in clear and present danger. We must rise up and oppose this tyranny,” De Vera texted from his detention.
Windel Bolinget, chairperson of CPA, said that De Vera’s arrest, and that of many other human rights violations across the county, manifest the hastening breakdown of democracy and unmasks further the tyrannical and fascist rule of Duterte.
“It is both a crackdown against human rights defenders and a direct attack on the people,” Bolinget said.
“More than ever it is upon the people’s collective action, will and might that can arrest this situation. To rise up against this tyranny is the just and right thing to do, and it is upon every individual do so,” Bolinget said.
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, in a press release, said that De Vera’s arrest not only shows the intensifying crackdown against activists but also a threat to environmental advocates.
“Sherwin’s arrest threatens to send a chilling effect on other environmental advocates who dare stand up against the plunder of natural resources, and government negligence and indifference towards the people affected by environmental problems and issues,” the Kalikasan press release said.
“We call on our fellow environmental advocates to unite and resist the creeping dictatorship of the Duterte regime,” the Kalikasan release further said. # nordis.net