Karapatan: Gov’t charges vs activists meant to portray them as terrorists
MANILA, Philippines — Karapatan public information officer Philip Jamilla thinks that the government’s filing of illegal possession of firearms and explosives against human rights activists is meant to portray the latter as terrorists.
During a forum organized by the University of the Philippines-Association of Political Science Majors on Saturday, Jamilla said that the concept of red-tagging is “more than calling someone a communist, more than calling someone a terrorist, more than calling someone a rebel.”
“The intention of red-tagging is to say that human rights activists are actually armed combatants in this armed conflict,” Jamilla said.
“So para sa estado, patunay na may nakukuha daw silang umanong bala, may nakukuha daw silang baril at bomba sa mga bahay ng mga aktibistang inaaresto to support the fact daw na kami ay mga rebelde, na kami ay mga terorista,” he added.
(So for the state, they say that they allegedly confiscated bullets, they confiscated guns and bombs from arrested activists to support the fact that we are rebels, we are terrorists.)
Jamilla’s statement comes after Amanda Echanis, daughter of slain slain Anakpawis chairperson and peace consultant Randall Echanis, was arrested for alleged illegal possession of firearms and explosives in Banggao, Cagayan.
It was also reported that Amanda’s one-month-old son was arrested along with her.
Amanda’s case is similar to that of Reina Mae Nasino, an urban poor organizer, who was arrested in November 2019 after a series of raids in Metro Manila and Negros Island. She was also charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
During her arrest, Nasino was one-month pregnant with her daughter, River. The baby died in October after suffering from acute gastro-enteritis, and was separated from her political detainee mother.
“Ilan ‘yan sa mga recent cases na nakikita natin ngayon na ginagamit laban kila Reina Mae Nasino, ginagamit ‘yan kay Amanda Echanis para palabasin na sila ay mga terorista na dapat hulihin, na dapat sila ay makalaban ng estado na dapat patayin, na sila ay dangerous at threat sa estado,” Jamilla further said.
(Those are the recent cases that we see being used against Reina Mae Nasino, against Amanda Echanis to portray that they are terrorists who should be arrested, that they are against the state and that they should be killed, and that they are a threat to the state.)
‘Rule of law’
In reaction to Jamilla’s statement, Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Ildebrandi Usana said that the members of the police force will only file charges if there is evidence.
“The PNP, as law enforcement agency, operates on the basis of the rule of law po. Kung may [ebidensiya] naman po (If there is evidence), the public will expect the PNP to file the case,” Usana told INQUIRER.net in a text message.
“If there is no evidence po, we cannot violate the law and make allegations without basis,” the spokesman added.
INQUIRER.net has also reached out to Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesman Maj. Gen. Edgar Arevalo for comment on the matter, but he has yet to get a response as of this writing.