“The youth are shaming Duterte and this administration with their determination, bold voices, and courage to fight for their principles. A cowardly government that abhors this bravery responded with their typical, militarist solution – more lies through trumped-up charges,” Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said.
Human rights alliance Karapatan condemns the filing of falsified trafficking and child abuse charges against leaders and organizers of Anakbayan and other youth leaders. The rights group called the case a clear move by government state forces to harass the respondents and suppress dissent. “The charges came after Senator Ronald Dela Rosa publicly failed to peddle his “kidnapping” and red-tagging narrative against youth activists and progressive organizations,” Palabay explained.
“Amid massive student protests condemning assaults on student activism and threats of campus militarization, Duterte’s fascist machinery is hellbent on terrorizing the Filipino youth and harassing its critics through the old tactic of filing false and malicious charges. It is a clear case of state harassment. This comes from a militarist mindset that fear and terror will silence the youth from voicing their discontent on the government’s political and economic failures,” added Palabay.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a subpoena last August 13 against Anakbayan leaders and members, as well as Kabataan Party-list Representative Sarah Jane Elago and National Union of People’s Lawyers Chairperson Atty. Neri Colmenares over trafficking and child abuse raps and other complaints filed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) over supposed “missing activists.”
“There are no missing or brainwashed activists. The “missing activists” have made it clear that they voluntarily joined Anakbayan. They have appeared publicly in press conferences and mass mobilizations to debunk the lies and expose the fascist state’s agenda of exploiting them and their families to demonize student activism. At this point, the state is desperately grasping at straws, trying to save whatever logic is left of their tirades against youth organizations,” Palabay continued.
The Karapatan official also lambasted the said charges for including NUPL’s Atty. Neri Colmenares and Kabataan Partylist’s Sarah Elago: “This is really hogwash, and it is lamentable that millions are spent to fund this kind of judicial harassment and political persecution against activists. The inclusion of partylist representative Sarah Elago and human rights lawyer Atty. Neri Colmenares indicates how desperate they are to implicate vocal critics of this repressive government. This absurdity could’ve been laughable, if it wasn’t so dangerous.”
“Bato cannot feign interest in forwarding the interests of the youth when he has been the chief implementer of the Duterte regime’s drug war, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Filipino youth and destroyed many Filipino families,” Palabay continued.
“The Duterte administration has been relentless in its assault on dissent from the sedition charges against the political opposition, perjury raps and outright demonization of human rights defenders, and now, the trumped-up charges against youth activists. These attacks are proof that Duterte is cowering in fear because of the people’s growing resistance against his brutal fascist regime. This government wants robotic people who will blindly follow orders. In the past months however, the youth, along with many sectors, have shown them that the Filipino people remain critical, and that regardless of their sinister plans, the clamor against repression and tyranny grows stronger,” the Karapatan official ended.