Karapatan staff tailed by army intelligence

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HUMAN RIGHTS THREAT A suspected intelligence agent sits beside one of the Karapatan-SMR staff, then covered his mouth, as if to relay information on his observations (Photo by Hanimay Suazo)

DAVAO CITY- Human rights group Karapatan-Southern Mindanao condemned the surveillance on them by suspected military intelligence forces.

Hanimay Suazo, secretary-general of Karapatan-SMR, said that the incident took place when she and three other staff members were meeting in a fast food center in Maa in the morning of January 30, a military intelligence sat on the table next to them.

Suazo identified the person of heavy built and was wearing camouflage trousers and eyes covered with sunglasses.

“The man was wearing shades, but it was obvious that he kept staring at us every now and then,” Suazo said.

“One of our staff recognized him as one of the intelligence agents present at Rivera Funeral Homes when they helped claim the body of NPA commander Leoncio “Parago” Pitao,” she added.

SEEN AGAIN The asset on the left, in red long-sleeves, was recognized by one of the Karapatan staff. His companion on the left is also an intelligence asset who kept taking photos of the family of Leoncio Pitao and the Karapatan staff that went with them. (Photo by Lam Banuag)
SEEN AGAIN The asset on the left, in red long-sleeves, was recognized by one of the Karapatan staff. His companion on the left is also an intelligence asset who kept taking photos of the family of Leoncio Pitao and the Karapatan staff that went with them. (Photo by Lam Banuag)

Suazo said the when the agent finished his meal, he called someone on his mobile phone and covered his mouth during the conversation.  Around this time they noticed another man wearing sunglasses and a cap standing outside the door across their table and was looking at them while texting on his phone.

“We stopped and moved out. But as we were walking, the man who sat beside us immediately called from his phone and covered his mouth once more. While the person outside kept watching us as we rode a taxicab,” Suazo said.

Suazo said with the recent spate of killings in Southern Mindanao this January, the harassment against human rights defenders are bound to happen.

“Our work as human rights defenders have earned us the same ire from the state and corporations who want to plunder our resources and repress our rights,” she said.

But Suazo said that they remain unflinching in their work. “We remain firm with our work to hold the Aquino government accountable for human rights violations and plunder of our natural resources.  We continue to call for the end of militarization and the attacks against human rights defenders,” she said.

Last year, three suspected intelligence agents of the military tried to force their way inside the Karapatan office.

Suazo is also facing trumped-up charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention for helping out the Manobo evacuees currently housed in the Haran compound in Davao City.

 

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