HomeNewsPhilippine groups hit terror case vs. human rights activists

Philippine groups hit terror case vs. human rights activists

Human rights and pro-environment groups in Manila described the terror charges against two human rights workers as “ridiculous” and an effort to “demonize activism.” 

The groups denounced the indictments of Fritz Jay Labiano and Adrian Paul Tagle, under Republic Act No. 10168, the Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012. 

The charges against Labiano and Tagle are based on their act of providing humanitarian aid to environmental advocate Miguela Peniero and indigenous rights supporter Rowena Dasig. 

Both were detained arbitrarily on July 12, 2023, at the Atimonan Municipal Police Station in Quezon Province. On July 18, 2023, an arrest warrant was issued against Peniero and six others, accusing them of violating the Anti-Terrorism Act.

The prosecution, based on allegations from the 85th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, claims that Labiano and Tagle committed an act of terrorism financing by providing PHP 500 (~USD 9), drinking water, and food to the detainees. 

“The accusation that offering necessities like water and food to detained activists constitutes terrorism financing is absurd and unjust,” said Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of KARAPATAN. “These charges misuse the law to silence dissent.”

Palabay said the case “sets a dangerous precedent” that seeks to criminalize humanitarian aid to detainees, adding that the testimonies used are fabricated falsehoods by soldiers and paid witnesses.

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KARAPATAN also expressed concerns over the use of anti-terrorism and terrorist financing laws more broadly, labeling them as arbitrary and an infringement on legitimate human rights activities. 

Pro-environment group Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment (PNE) said the case is “an abuse of the legal system to silence environmental defenders,” adding that there is “a pattern of harassment that aims to suppress” environmental activists and human rights defenders. 

The group called on the Commission on Human Rights to investigate what it claimed was the use of legal mechanisms to intimidate environmental defenders. 

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