Hands off human rights worker Pia Montalban: Karapatan

·Contributor
·2 min read
Pia Montalban, a human rights worker for Karapatan in Central Luzon, has been a constant victim of red-tagging even before the pandemic, with NTF-ELCAC branding her as a recruiter for the New Peoples' Army. (Photo: Pia Montalban/Facebook)
Pia Montalban, a human rights worker for Karapatan in Central Luzon, has been a constant victim of red-tagging even before the pandemic, with NTF-ELCAC branding her as a recruiter for the New Peoples' Army. (Photo: Pia Montalban/Facebook)

Human rights group Karapatan condemns the continued harassment of one of its human rights workers in Central Luzon, Pia Montalban, who was one of those arrested in Hacienda Tinang in Concepcion, Tarlac on June 9, 2022.

In a statement, Karapatan says that Montalban, aside from facing various charges and being wrongly tagged as a recruiter for the communists, is also facing threats from the police, after she overheard a conversation during the bungkalan session in Hacienda Tinang among the police forces whether their “target” was there, pertaining to her. The chief of police of Concepcion, Tarlac then pointed to her and ordered her arrest.

But even before that, Montalban’s name and face has been a mainstay in posters red-tagging progressive leaders, organizations and partylists in Central Luzon as “terrorist, communist and NPA recruiter.”

“These various forms of harassment against Pia Montalban shouldstop! She is a human rights worker, a writer, activist for farmers and indigenous people – not a criminal,” Karapatan’s Secretary-General, Tinay Palabay, said. “We are deeply concerned about her safety and security. After the Tinang incident, there were threats and harassment against her on social media and in Central Luzon.”

Karapatan also condemns anew National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lorraine Badoy-Partosa’s remarks countering Department of Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra’s statement that red-tagging endangers people if there is no sufficient evidence against them.

“The NTF-ELCAC as the primary purveyor of such disinformation as officials in the task force are paid to spread lies, defend human rights violations done by state forces, and even go against other government officials who might have, at the very least, make pronouncements that affirms the people’s basic rights,” Palabay added.

Karapatan is calling on the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the threats that individuals, both free and detained, and to monitor their safety and security in their conduct of an independent and impartial investigation.

Karapatan is also calling for the authorities to junk the charges against the unjustly detained during the incident in Hacienda Tinang.

Marvin Joseph Ang is a news and creative writer who follows developments in politics, democracy, and popular culture. He advocates for a free press and national democracy. The views expressed are his own.

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