Pastor accused of involvement in ambush staged by NPA rebels nabbed in CamSur
MANILA, Philippines — A pastor of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines, (UCCP) who is also a human rights activist, was arrested for alleged murder complaints, rights group Karapatan said on Thursday.
Karapatan secretary-general Cristina Palabay said in a Facebook post that Pastor Dan San Andres, 61, was nabbed at 12:55 p.m. in his Sipocot, Camarines Sur house.
Palabay added San Andres, also the chairperson of Karapatan’s Bicol chapter, along with Gabriela Bicol’s Jenelyn Nagrampa, were arrested based on double murder cases in relation to an ambush supposedly done by New People’s Army rebels, where two soldiers were killed.
The Sipocot Municipal Police Station confirmed in a phone call with INQUIRER.net that San Andres was arrested for “a murder case.” However, they have not yet specified the details of the case.
Palabay claimed that the arrest was another episode in the administration’s crackdown on human rights workers, amid the enactment of the anti-terrorism law.
“Karapatan condemns the arrest of our Bicol chapter chairperson Pastor Dan San Andres and woman human rights defender Jenelyn Nagrampa as part of the Duterte administration’s continuing crackdown and criminalization of human rights defenders,” she said in a statement.
“With the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, such incidents and patterns of rights violations are expected to intensify, in the mad rampage against rights defenders, dissenters and critics of this administration,” she added.
According to Karapatan, both San Andres and Nagrampa have filed their counter-affidavits to show that they were not at the incident when the attack against government forces happened. San Andres was supposedly conducting a Mass in his parish, while Nagrampa was said to be campaigning during the barangay elections, for a village councilor spot that she holds as of today.
“We demand the immediate release of Pastor Dan San Andres and Jenelyn Nagrampa, as we call for the halt to all forms of attacks against human rights defenders in the Philippines,” Palabay noted.
Previously, President Rodrigo Duterte said that he has declared communists as terrorists after peace talks between the government and the rebels have failed to push through.
However, several people have warned that this might lead to more Red-tagging, especially in the wake of the anti-terrorism law, which administration critics said, blurs lines between criticism and terrorism.
But for the measure’s supporters, human rights are safeguarded by provisions in the new law. [ac]
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