Victims of redtagging, militarization appeal to VP Leni Robredo for help

Naga City – On the third day of the week-long regional Caravan of the Landless in Bicol, relatives of redtagging victims appealed to fellow Bicolnon VP Leni Robredo to help castigate erring NTF ELCAC officials that continue to maliciously redtag individuals and legitimate people’s organizations.

The wife of detained fisherfolk leader Elwin Mangampo as well as relatives and colleagues of extrajudicial killing victims Jemar Palero and Marlon Naperi, also known as Guinobatan 2, said they have yet to achieve justice for what happened to Mangampo, Palero and Naperi. “Sana mapansin at matulungan din kami ni VP Leni na makamit ang hustisya.”

Farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said redtagging is often a prelude to more vicious rights violations.

“Redtagging is very dangerous and could lead to rights abuses, illegal arrest and detention, militarization of entire communities, and even political killings. We demand a stop to redtagging that was weaponized by the NTF ELCAC to attack the civilian population,” according to Bert Autor of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Bicol.

Palero, from the Organisasyon ng mga Magsasaka sa Albay (OMA), and Naperi, from human rights group Albay People’s Organization (APO), were tortured and killed by police forces after being seen conducting Operation Pinta (OP) at Banao Bridge, on the eve of Duterte’s last SONA.

Mangampo, was arrested at his home in Pio Duran, Albay on May 30, 2021 shortly after he came in from early morning fishing. Mangampo was the chairperson of Lakas ng Mangingisda sa Bicol (LAMBAT), and also an elected barangay kagawad (village councilor). He has been redtagged and harrassed in his town in Pio Duran before his arrest.

Militarization amid election season

“Mga magsasaka lang kami. Bakit kami nire-redtag, hinaharas, at pinapasuko? Mga magsasaka kami na nagdedepensa sa mga lupang sakahan at tirahan namin,” says Tess Cello, coordinator of Anakpawis-Camarines Sur.

Autor said leaders and members of partylist Anakpawis across the region are also being redtagged and subjected to various rights violations. He also noted that the 2022 election campaign period in Bicol is marked with ceaseless state violence with cases of killings, harassment, arrests, and even bombing of communities.

Since March 21, an estimate of 50 uniformed and non-uniformed state forces encamped in Sitio Balatungan, Barangay Concepcion Grande, Naga City and are causing widespread terror and distress among the residents. Initial reports say that the state forces are planning to camp in the community for 6 months. They are conducting house-to-house visitations with a list of their “targets”. Men in civilian clothing are also conducting surveys, claiming that they are working for the Mayors of various towns.

Autor encourages Bicolanos to remain vigilant against redtagging and human rights violations.

Anakpawis, along with other Makabayan partylists filed a complaint against NTF ELCAC officials. KMP and other mass organizations will follow suit next week. ###

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