San Pedro activists ‘harassed, spied on’ over 3 days

·2 min read
A demonstrator holds a sign at protest by activists denouncing the proclamation of the new Philippine president and vice president, in front of the Commission on Human Rights, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David
A demonstrator holds a sign at protest by activists denouncing the proclamation of the new Philippine president and vice president, in front of the Commission on Human Rights, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Marie David

Teachers were being profiled and the homes of two activists were being surveilled in a span of three days, July 8 to 10, according to the Laguna chapter of multisectoral alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN).

“We have noted no less than three incidents of state harassment, surveillance, and intimidation occurred in San Pedro from July 8 to July 10, 2022,” the group said. “This rapid succession of attacks against people's organizations is especially alarming, as this usually indicates that a wave of human rights violations is incoming.”

On July 8 alone, the group claimed that four soldiers of the 201st Infantry Brigade (IB) visited the home of Emma Galvez, a member of urban poor group Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) Laguna, and attempted to strike a deal for her to provide information on KADAMAY Laguna members in exchange for aid.

The same group of soldiers also supposedly infiltrated Langgam Elementary School in an attempt to identify teachers who were members of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), a group advocating for teacher rights. BAYAN Laguna claimed that they were also “planning on conducting an ‘anti-terrorism seminar’ in their school.”

Two days later, the home of Kabataan Party-list Laguna vice chairperson Alvin Lao was said to be under surveillance by civilian intelligence agents. Such agents would supposedly observe the home “for at least two hours before leaving when confronted.”

BAYAN Laguna condemned what they saw as a “series of threats and harassments against progressives and people's organizations in the city of San Pedro, Laguna”, and challenged Mayor Art Mercado to look into the matter.

“We are challenging San Pedro City Mayor Art Mercado to investigate the matter and prove to his constituents that he is intent on ushering a ‘new San Pedro’ by protecting the people's rights to expression and dissent,” they said.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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