Rights worker cries harassmentBy Oliver Samson |Inquirer Southern Luzon
SORSOGON CITY—A leader of the human rights group Karapatan in Sorsogon on Friday called on the military in the province to stop its “continuous psychological harassment” against him and instead charge him in court if he has committed any crime.
Teodorico Escanilla, Karapatan spokesperson in Sorsogon, said one case of harassment involved soldiers aboard a military truck stopping in front of his house in Barcelona town and asking his neighbors if he lived there, showing his picture to the people.
Escanilla, who also has a radio program that tackles human rights issues and concerns of the poor, said the soldiers knew him and where his house was but brandished his picture to neighbors as if he was a wanted man.
He said he knew he has been branded by the military as a member of the New People’s Army but he insisted he “never took up arms.”
“They can file a complaint regarding my activities as a human rights worker, if there is any, before a court,” Escanilla said.
He pointed to the 31st Infantry Battalion (IB) as responsible for the harassment.
Lt. Col. Teody Toribio, head of the 31st IB, denied the accusation, however. But Toribio admitted he had heard about reports linking Escanilla to rebel activities.
Toribio said he was willing to discuss human rights issues with Escanilla.