The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) adds its voice to the widespread condemnation of the police and military over the harassment of Davao-based veteran journalist and social worker Fidelina Margarita Valle, who was arrested, held incommunicado and denied counsel for several hours last June 9. She was later released only after news of her arrest sparked public outrage.
The police now say her arrest was a case of mistaken identity. The police claim the information was fed from military intelligence. Valle’s family, however, is correct to point out that her arrest was a clear case of harassment and aims to send a message to people like her who are involved in human rights advocacy, progressive journalism, supporting Lumad community schools and other social involvements that are invariably critical of the Duterte government.
The police and military harassment against Valle is one of the rising number of cases of human rights violations in the Philippines, targeting journalists as well as peasants, workers, teachers, students, urban poor, women, church workers, social workers, lawyers and so on.
The stark case of police and military abuse of power in the harassment against Valle is one of the real reasons why Duterte has rejected the call of international human rights stalwarts for the United Nations to conduct an inquiry into the growing number of killings and rights abuses perpetrated under his terror regime.
In addition to Valle’s harassment case are the unabated killings in Duterte’s drug war, the successive killings of peasants in the Bicol region, Negros and Samar, militarization of rural communities across the country, rampant cases of illegal arrests, trumped-up charges, Red-tagging and threats against social activists.
As a signatory to the International Declaration of Human Rights, the Philippine government is accountable to the international community over the question of rights violations and abuse of power by the police, military and other state security forces. Duterte, however, is fear-stricken that an independent investigation into cases of rights abuses will thoroughly expose him as a tyrant with blood-stained hands.