URGENT APPEALS - THE OBSERVATORY
PHL 004 / 0421 / OBS 042
April 7, 2021
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Philippines.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by Karapatan Alliance Philippines about the ongoing judicial harassment against Elisa “Tita” Lubi, Karapatan National Chairperson; and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag, Secretary General of Karapatan – Southern Mindanao chapter.
On March 29 and March 12, 2021, respectively, Elisa “Tita” Lubi and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag filed a motion before the Davao City Regional Trial Court – Branch 52 to defer the implementation of the arrest warrants issued by the court against them on December 14, 2020, and to conduct further investigations into their cases. Ms. Lubi and Mr. Apiag are facing trumped-up charges of “attempted murder”. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Ms. Lubi and Mr. Apiag remain in undisclosed locations for their safety pending the resolution of their motion before the Davao City Regional Trial Court.
On June 3, 2020, a member of the Philippine Army (PA), Corporal Elvin Jay Claud, filed “attempted murder” charges against Ms. Lubi and Mr. Apiag before the Davao City Regional Trial Court in relation to their alleged participation in an armed clash between the PA and the New People’s Army on May 20, 2018, in Sitio Balite, Barangay Salapawan, Paquibato District, Davao City, Davao del Sur Province. However, at the time of the armed clash, Ms. Lubi was in Metro Manila. Mr. Apiag was in Barangay Madaum, Tagum City, Davao del Norte Province, where he was carrying out several interviews with the relatives of an industrial worker who had been allegedly killed by the PA.
The Observatory notes that Ms. Lubi and Mr. Apiag did not receive subpoenas related to the charges filed by Corporal Elvin Jay Claud and hence were unable to participate in the preliminary investigation, thus breaching their right to due process.
The Observatory further notes that Ms. Lubi and Mr. Apiag had previously been subjected to other acts of harassment and intimidation, including death threats and red-tagging. In 2020, Jayvee “Jay” Apiag was labelled as a “communist” and a “terrorist” in leaflets portraying alleged “communist leaders” in the Southern Mindanao region. In 2018, the Department of Justice of the Philippines included Ms. Lubi in a “communist-terrorist” list. She was later removed from the list.
The Observatory recalls that since President Duterte took power in June 2016, human rights defenders have faced relentless vilification and red-tagging with the aim to discredit their peaceful work and to silence all critical voices, thus creating a climate in which attacks against them are acceptable and legitimised. On March 7, 2021, nine human rights defenders were killed by the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the PA following President Duterte’s order to “ignore human rights” and “kill” communist rebels in any armed encounter with them.
Furthermore, those defending rights in the Philippines have been subjected to trumped-up charges and lengthy pre-trial arbitrary detention. Karapatan members have faced frequent harassment, criminalisation and attacks, including the killing of Ms. Zara Alvarez and the arbitrary detention of Teresita Naul, Alexander Philip Abinguna, Nimfa Lanzanas and Renalyn Tejero.
The Observatory expresses its concern over the judicial harassment against Elisa “Tita” Lubi and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag, as it seems to be only aimed at punishing them for their legitimate human rights activities.
The Observatory urges the Philippines authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Elisa “Tita” Lubi and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them.
The Observatory reiterates its utmost concern over the violence, including killings and physical attacks, against human rights defenders in the Philippines, and calls upon the authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the country.
Please write to the authorities of the Philippines asking them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Elisa “Tita” Lubi and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag and all other human rights defenders in the country;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Elisa “Tita” Lubi and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag, since they seem to be merely aimed at punishing them for their human rights activities;
iii. Guarantee Elisa “Tita” Lubi’s and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag’s right to due process and fair trial;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Elisa “Tita” Lubi and Jayvee “Jay” Apiag and all other human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.
- Mr. Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines, Email: email@example.com or send a message through http://president.gov.ph/contact-us/;
- Mr. Teodoro Locsin Jr, Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Hon. Menardo Guevarra, Secretary, Department of Justice of the Philippines, Email: email@example.com;
- Hon. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Police General Oscar Albayalde, Chief, Philippine National Police, Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
- H.E. Mr. Evan P. Garcia, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Philippines to the United Nations Office in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Embassy of the Philippines in Brussels, Email: email@example.com.
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Philippines in your respective countries.
Geneva-Paris, April 7, 2021
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39
- Tel FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18
 “Red-tagging” is the process of labelling individuals or groups perceived to be critical of the government as “terrorists” and/or “communists”.
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