[Statement] Philippines: Respect freedom of association of activists, ensure thorough investigations -Forum-Asia
The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) denounces the recent raids of activist organisations in Manila and Negros Occidental, and the continuous attempts to discredit civil society organisations in the Philippines. FORUM-ASIA calls on the Government and all State agencies to ensure respect for the rights of all individuals involved, including their freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. The Government must ensure transparency in the conduct of its operations and investigations, and ensure that officials are in full compliance of their lawful obligations.
On 31 October and 5 November 2019, the Philippine police and the military conducted raids on the offices of activist organisations Gabriela, Bayan, Kilusang Mayo Uno and the National Federation of Sugar Workers in Manila and Negros Occidental. More than fifty activists, including several minors, were taken into police custody, supposedly for conducting explosives training to destabilize the Government. The police allege that these organisations are ‘legal fronts’ of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA). Security officials also accused humanitarian and church-based organisations, including Oxfam Philippines, on 5 November as legal fronts of CPP.
According to the human rights network Karapatan, the police planted evidence during the raids. Karapatan also believes that these series of attacks are reprisals against Duterte critics. Prior to the raids, several civil society organisations received information that they were under surveillance and that a raid of their offices was imminent.
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