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Rights group warns of Philippines government 'terror campaign'

Karapatan raises alarm after spate of arrests and abductions

Rights group warns of Philippines government 'terror campaign'

Rights activists call for an end to illegal arrests and abductions during a protest in Manila (photo by Rene Sandajan)

Joe Torres and D'jay Lazaro, Manila

July 18, 2013

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A recent spate of arrests and abductions in the Philippines could mark the start of a new campaign by the government to spread fear among its opponents, human rights group Karapatan warned today.

The incidents "may be the start of another round of terror attacks [by the military] against the people," Karapatan's chairperson, Marie-Hilao Enriquez, said.

She was speaking after security forces arrested a former political prisoner and two farmers disappeared in less than a week.

Aristedes Sarmiento, a former political detainee, was arrested on July 16 in Quezon province.

Authorities said he was arrested as part of a murder inquiry.   

In Bataan province, soldiers arrested two farmers and a trishaw driver who were suspected of being communist rebels and charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives. They have since disappeared, said Enriquez.

"This government practice of using blank warrants, illegal arrests on fabricated charges to justify its actions against ordinary folks shows its desperation," Enriquez said.

Data from Karapatan shows at least 142 victims of extrajudicial killings in the past three years.

Meanwhile, more than 250 peace advocates and human rights defenders from 25 countries will gather tomorrow in Manila to discuss the government’s human rights record. They will also seek to strengthen national and international human rights solidarity campaigns in the country.

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