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Alleged ‘military hit list’ in Northern Mindanao hit

/ 05:31 PM February 22, 2019

DAVAO CITY — Leaflets red-tagging members of the media, several lawyers, church officials and members of progressive groups circulated during the launch of a group of human rights victims here, the latest case of harassment against human rights defenders in Northern Mindanao, a human rights group said Friday.

Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay deplored the release of what she described as a “military hit list” as another attack against individuals and groups critical of the Duterte administration.

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The list, which included the name of Goldstar associate editor Cong Corrales and his family, tagged 23 people as members of the communist New People’s Army (NPA).

Palabay was in Cagayan de Oro City on Feb. 22 for the launching of Hustisya Northern Mindanao, a group made up of victims of martial law that the government implemented in Mindanao since the siege in Marawi City in 2017 and had been extended for the third time.

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Around 10:30 a.m., Palabay said a suspected military agent approached the security guard of the hotel and handed him two brown envelopes.

“Each envelope contained 13 copies of flyers listing organizations of youth and teachers, and tagging names of church workers, lawyers, rights advocates and that of a journalist, as ‘terrorist members of the New People’s Army and Communist Party of the Philippines’,” Palabay said.

Among those listed in the leaflet were  Iglesia Filipino Independiente Bishop Felixberto Calang, Fr. Rolando Abejo of the Movement Against Tyranny-Northern Mindanao, Karapatan Northern Mindanao spokesperson Fr. Khen Apus, human rights lawyers Beverly Musni, Czarina Musni, and Beverly Ann Musni and Cagayan de Oro-based journalist Cong Corrales and his family.

“Such notorious lists have further endangered the already perilous situation of human rights defenders. We have repeatedly raised how these arbitrary and baseless accusations incite threats to the lives and security of named individuals, the worst of which is that they become victims of extrajudicial killings,” Palabay said.

Karapatan has called on the Commission on Human Rights and the local governments “to protect the rights defenders and make accountable those in power who continue to put their lives at risk.”

Cong Corrales condemned the inclusion of his name and his family in the supposed “military hitlist.”

“My wife, son, and I condemn the cowards who included us in the anonymous list of supposed Communist Party of the Philippines members here in Cagayan de Oro City. We are not, have never been and never will be members of CPP,” Corrales told the Inquirer.

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He said his wife, a marketing executive of Gold Star Daily, the same media outfit where he works as an associate editor, while his son, a regular staff of the Commission on Elections-10 and is currently serving in the commission’s city office, had nothing to hide.

“Our credentials are readily available. We denounce this list as it does not only intimidate me in my work as a journalist but has endangered my family. We know fully well that red-tagging is a virtual death sentence.

On my end, I will not let this cowardly act push me to silence. I will continue speaking the truth,” he said.

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TAGS: harassments, Human rights, Local news, military hit list, northern mindanao, Philippine news updates
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