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Katribu Partylist vice-president Genasque Enriquez is being charged with murder and is being accused by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) of being a member of the New People’s Army. Enriquez is a Lumad and has been an active organizer within the Lumad community for many years in Surigao del Sur.
Ina Alleco R. Silverio, in an article for Bulatlat, writes:
Genasque is also the secretary-general of Kasalo-CaragaThe Kahugpungan sa mga Lumadnong Organisasyon-Caraga (Kasalo-Caraga). He and Kasalo were the first to sound the alarm over the ongoing militarization in Zapanta Valley, Bray. Bangayan, Kitcharao, Agusan del Norte and Ferlda, Alegria, Surigao del Norte. In statements issued to the media, Genasque has charged the AFP of perpetrating countless human rights violations against the Lumad-Mamanwa people in their communities. He said the indigenous peoples in the Caraga region are perennial targets of intensive militarization…
In defense of Genasque, Katribu national president Beverly Longid slammed what she said was the AFP’s acts of “harassment and intimidation.” She said the murder charges are all part of a ” a vile attempt of the military to stop Enriquez in his activism on the recognition and protection of indigenous peoples rights.”
Longid said Enriquez and fellow Lumads have been vocal in opposing heightened militarization, corporate mining and commercial plantations in the Caraga region.
The group also expressed concern for the safety and security of Enriquez and his family.
“Victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances have experienced similar vilification and harassment,” Longid pointed out. She demanded that the AFP and the Aquino government stop their harassment tactics against human rights advocates and for the military to withdraw the fake complaint against Enriquez.
In a press release Katribu condemned the trumped up charges against Enriquez:
Enriquez was not involved in the said encounter and is not a member of the NPA. She pointed out that vilifying of legitimate organizations and linking them to the NPA or other underground revolutionary organizations and filing trumped up charges against its members and leaders is an old practice of the military.
Longid also expressed concern over the safety of Enriquez and his family. She highlighted that victims of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances experienced the same vilification and harassment.
“We call on State security forces to stop these practices of harassment, vilification and filing of trumped-up charges that violate human rights and particularly for the above-mentioned military units to withdraw the complaint against Enriguez.
Filing charges of murder (as well as charges of possession of weapons) and accusing community organizers and activists of being members of the New People’s Army has long been a tactic of the AFP. Many activists have been jailed only to be released months or years latter due to a complete lack of evidence connecting them to any underground activities. Part of these smear campaign tactics by the AFP is also used in order to justify harassment and surveillance of activists as well as to shift the blame away from the AFP when activists turn up dead or disappeared (typically done by claiming that the death was due to an “internal NPA purge”).