Latest red-tagging of Cagayan Valley peasant women leaders, activists confirms critique vs. terror law

Manila, Philippines – The National Federation of Peasant Women or Amihan denounced the serial red-tagging, harassments and threats against twenty-nine (29) activists, who are leaders and members of legal democratic organizations including its Isabela and Cagayan provincial chapters.

Karapatan Cagayan Valley human rights group reported that ripped sacks written with names and organizations of activists and being accused as recruiters of the New People’s Army (NPA), were hanged on trees along major highways in three towns of Isabela and Cagayan, respectively and Tuguegarao City. Moreover, flyers were distributed in Tuguegarao City, slandering the activists as “terrorists” and “recruiter of NPA.”

Among the victims are Jacquiline Ratin, Amihan’s National Vice-Chairperson and Chairperson of its provincial chapter in Cagayan ; Nenita Apricio, National Council member of Amihan, Chairperson of Amihan Tumauini and Asosasyon Daguiti Mannalon a Babbai ti Isabela (AMBI Amihan Isabela); Cita Managuelod and Pacita Chop-eng, were among the leaders and members who were red-tagged by the AFP.

Aside from Amihan organizations, targeted were Anakpawis Party-list, Kagimungan, Dagami, Timiq, UMA-Isabela, Anvik, Bayan Muna, Kabataan Party-list, Gabriela, ACT-Teachers and Anakbayan. The groups blamed the red-tagging that full throttled from May 20 to June 15 to the agents of the 5th Infantry Division and 17th Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, deployed in the region.

“The serial red-tagging against activists in Cagayan Valley confirms the legitimate critique or basis of opposing the terror law. The law does not aim to solve terrorism but will serve as legal arsenal against legal and democratic activists and organizations who oppose the anti-people programs and policies of the government. Red-tagging is state terror itself, as it mongers fear among the people against practicing the constitutional rights to freedom of expression, speech, peaceful assembly and organization. Just like general Esperon said, ‘kung tahimik naman sila, huwag sila mababahala,’” Zenaida Soriano, Amihan National Chairperson exclaimed.

She also cited the latest arrest yesterday of women rights advocate Jenelyn Nagrampa, Gabriela Bicol chairperson, who are being charged with trumped up cases.

Moreover, Amihan condemned the malicious text written in one of the sacks hanged along the highway in Cordon town, Isabela last May 22, stated as “GABRIELA, AMIHAN, KADAMAY NILOLOKO ANG MGA KABABAIHAN UPANG ABUSUHIN NG NPA” this was signed by a certain “MULAT-CV.”

“We are already mulling filing a complaint at the Commission on Human Rights and pushing for a house probe against this state terror assault on people’s democratic rights. This should be addressed head on, to hinder its escalation,” Soriano said.

Lastly, Amihan reiterated its call to junk the terror law or the Republic Act 11479 and urged the democratic-loving Filipinos to join the poor farmers, peasant women and other rural-based sectors in defending the country’s freedom and democracy. ###

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