Anakpawis, Pamalakaya raise alarm over ‘surveillance’ on headquarters

(Philstar.com) – December 18, 2020 – 5:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — Anakpawis party-list and fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya (Pamalakaya) alleged that a series of surveillance operations had been done on their shared headquarters in Quezon City in the days following the arrests of six trade unionists and one journalist on firearms and explosives charges.

They said that “suspicious persons” were spotted on CCTV “sneaking around” the vicinity of their headquarters on December 11 and 16.

“Given the successive raids of houses and offices that led to arrests of activists, we can’t help but be alarmed by the series of surveillance of our office by suspicious individuals pretending to be usual passersby,” Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

Hicap added, “We are warning the police not to dare conduct any raid and plant any evidence that would indict our staff.”

In anticipation of a possible raid, Anakpawis said that they will have their office inspected by the Commission on Human Rights. 

Similar inspections by the government’s human rights body have been conducted at the offices of other activist groups to prove that there are no firearms or explosives stored there.

Six trade union leaders and one journalist were arrested in separate raids on International Human Rights Day where police claimed to have netted explosives and firearms in their residences or offices.

Incidentally, the arrests of 62 other activists in various raids in Bacolod and Metro Manila beginning in October 2019 also happened because police supposedly discovered firearms and explosives in their possession.

The search warrants that led to the arrests of these individuals were all issued by Quezon City Executive Judge Cecilyn Burgos-Villavert.

Activists have described this as a crackdown on them by the administration in an attempt to stifle dissent.

“All the police involved in this massive crackdown of democratic activists must be held accountable, including the human-rights-violator-in-chief President Duterte,” Hicap said. — Xave Gregorio



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