Gabriela activist’s arrest shows intensifying crackdown on people’s movement in Mindanao

Barug Katungod Mindanao condemns the Duterte government’s criminalization of small entrepreneur and woman activist Nerita de Castro and using her as cover up for the military’s losses in the battlefield especially its failure to thwart alleged NPA revolutionary taxation.

To impute charges of extortion and murder against de Castro is a vile scheme to associate the legal mass movement with revolutionary taxation efforts of the New People’s Army and thus justify the Duterte regime’s unbridled crackdown on the open democratic Left. The question of revolutionary taxation is best resolved in the GRP-NDFP negotiating table rather than “scapegoating” civilians like De Castro.

De Castro has been a legitimate small businesswoman and activist since her time as a program director of the Diocese of Tandag and the church-based Task Force Detainees of the Philippines in the 1980s.

The AFP had been quick at exploiting this background of De Castro to paint the spectre of her being a “rebel finance officer.” If an individual coming from a legitimate buy-and-sell startup business could be charged with unimaginable criminal allegations by this government, it shows the pervasiveness of fabricated charges against poor farmers, Lumad, Moro, and the powerless especially in rural communities.

The Philippine National Police, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the Presidential Management Staff, and the Office of the Presidential Assistant on the Peace Process— all of which took turns in interrogating De Castro without the benefit of a legal counsel— have been the most ardent lapdogs of the AFP’s criminalization of human rights activists. These appendages of the State have been encouraged by the open declaration of President Duterte to wage a sweeping crackdown on the left through Presidential Proclamation 374 which has not been rescinded even with the announcement of the resumption of formal peace negotiations in Europe this month.

De Castro was arrested by the PNP and CIDG upon the goading of the 402nd Brigade at Emenville Subdivision, Brgy. Ambago, Butuan City last May 31, 2018 using false criminal charges filed before the sala of Judge Lilibeth Ladaga in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Nerita de Catro is an active volunteer of Gabriela Women’s Party list and a human rights advocate in the Caraga region, actively exposing human rights violations by the military and police.

This incident again manifests the intolerance and the continued terror of the US-Duterte regime against all individuals and organizations expressing criticisms against its rule. De Castro’s arrest is a clear violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) which prohibits the fabrication of trumped up charges against activists.

In Mindanao, 404 cases of false and trumped up charges against civilians have been filed since the revival of the Inter-Agency Committee on Legal Action (IACLA). This committee composed of the AFP, PNP, Department of Justice (DOJ), among others, is responsible for the questionable issuances of warrants of arrest against civilians on mere suspicion as NPA rebels or sympathizers. De Castro’s arrest and detention is another proof that violations of political, civil, economic and cultural rights of against Mindanaoans have doubled since the declaration of Martial Law on May 23, 2017.

Human rights organizations across Mindanao call on the Duterte government to immediately release De Castro. This shameless policy and practice of imputing false criminal charges against activists must stop!

Release Nerita De Castro Now!
Drop trumped up charges against activists!
End Martial Law in Mindanao!

Barug Katungod Mindanao