DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 July) – Progressive groups in Davao City called on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR)-Davao to investigate the posting of flyers bearing the faces of nine leaders of various left-leaning groups and branding them as “terrorist recruiters.”
In a complaint filed before CHR-Davao on Monday, a copy of which was released only on Tuesday, Karapatan-Southern Mindanao secretary-general Jay Apiag said that the flyers were seen on the evening of July 22 along the streets of Barangay Maa, Matina Crossing, Cabaguio, Buhangin, and Panacan.
The incident happened five days before President Rodrigo R. Duterte delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
The flyers were printed with the names of Carlo Olalo, Romelito Pablo, and Pj Dizon of Kilusang Mayo Uno-Southern Mindanao Region; Cora Espinoza, Gabriela Southern Mindanao Region (Gabriela-SMR) vice chairperson who was also former commissioner of the Philippine Commission on Women; Mary Ann Sapar of Gabriela-SMR; Tony Salubre of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Southern Mindanao Region; Jong Monzon, PASAKA Secretary-General; Pilar Barredo, Union Secretary of Alliance of Concerned Teachers Davao Region; and Apiag of Karapatan-SMR.
“Printed on top of the poster is ‘wanted’ with photos of prominent activists-leaders and rights defender in Southern Mindanao Region maliciously branding them as terrorist recruiters. The posters bear no signatories,” Apiag said.
He said the human rights groups were alarmed by the incident, which happened only weeks after Duterte signed into law Republic Act 11479 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
Apiag added the law sent “a chilling effect especially in the course of fulfilling our mandates and has, in fact, caused us a feeling of trepidation and might put our lives and security at risk.”
Apiag and other human rights groups did not push through with the protest rally in time for Duterte’s fifth SONA last Monday as the police required demonstrators to present food and medicine pass, issued by the local government of Davao for the purpose of buying food and medicines.
Police barricaded the venue of the protest rally along Roxas Avenue and provided them 50 seats to limit the number of participants to the mass action.
But Apiag said the groups pushed through with the online protest. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)