By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Human rights defenders raised alarm over a ‘confidential memorandum’ of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to its intelligence group to submit a dossier of individuals the police labeled as New People’s Army (NPA) leaders.
Mary Ann Gabayan, secretary general of the Ilocos Human Rights Alliance (IHRA) said they are deeply concerned for the people listed in the said memorandum which includes Sherwin de Vera, an environmental activist and journalist, a lawyer and activists from the Cordillera and Ilocos regions, and names like an Edwin Rimando, who has the same family name as Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Ilocos spokesperson, Engr. Eduardo Rimando.
De Vera has already been under the surveillance of the state forces prior to his arrest for trumped-up charges on December 2017 and is currently facing trial.
The said memorandum posted at scribd.com by a certain Jayson Guerrero on August 10 came from Camp Crame and was dated May 28, 2018. The memorandum was addressed to “chiefs, RIUs 1 and 14” directing them “to provide SOI on the following NPA leader”.
The list included Jovencio Balweg, a councilor in Malibcong, Abra; lawyer Jose Malintas, United Nation Special Rappoteur Victoria Tauli-Corpus (Corpuz) and Joan Carling, Co-convener of the Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development of the United Nations, Cordillera activists Joanna Carino, Wendel Bolingit, Jeannet Ribaya Cawiding and Beverly Longid were also listed.
A certain Esteban Manuel is also listed in the said memorandum. It can be recalled that Eduardo Esteban, a senior citizen and cancer survivor was arrested in his house in Jaro, Iloilo on August 5, 2014 with an arrest warrant issued for Esteban Manuel. He was jailed for 13 trumped up charges of murder, frustrated murder and arson among others in various courts in Abra, Mountain Province and Ilocos Sur. He was released in 2017 after all the charges were dismissed.
“We hope that the police would be more circumspect in their intelligence gathering so that they will not endanger the lives and security of civilians, indigenous peoples and human rights defenders,” Atty. Mary Ann Bayang, one of the legal counsels of Corpuz said.
Bayang added that “the police has the obligation to be foremost in ensuring the protection of human rights, not to be instruments in the violation of human rights”.
It is also notable that these individuals were also listed in the proscription petition of the Department of Justice (DOJ) as terrorists. Just recently Corpuz and Molintas were delisted from the proscription terror listing with former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Consultant Rafael Baylosis.
“Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra even admitted the DOJ did not verify the names they have listed in the proscription petition yet the PNP uses this to issue a memorandum subjecting our colleagues to further harassment,” Gabayan stressed.
“While IHRA is deeply concerned with the safety of our colleagues De Vera and Rimando and other personalities on the list, we will continue to expose these ruthless attacks and will hold the government liable for whatever untoward incident and further attacks that may happen,” Gabayan said. # nordis.net