By Karapatan Human Rights Group
WE STRONGLY decry the coordinated raids and mass arrests conducted against activists and progressive organizations in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental and in Manila on Thursday, Oct. 31. The evidence allegedly gathered from the raids were planted and were mere “Halloween dirty tricks” by the Duterte regime to discredit and silence its critics amid growing public discontent on the regime’s anti-people policies.
Truly, the real horrors and monsters of today come in uniform, expensive barongs and suit and ties that perpetrate State terrorism in surreptitious and deceptive ways.
Just in time for Halloween, Duterte’s fascist regime continues to unleash the horrors of State terrorism through raids, Gestapoesque mass arrests and the old Halloween tricks of search warrants, planted evidence and trumped-up charges appearing after some intense hocus pocus. These are nothing new—as we have seen in countless other police and military operations against activists—but the mass arrest of 59 individuals in one day of terror is as an alarming sign of the government’s intensifying efforts to crack down on its critics amid the people’s growing clamor to mobilize against the fascist regime.
Peasant leaders, trade unionists, human rights defenders, cultural workers, a community journalist, women’s rights activists as well minors are among the at least 59 individuals illegally arrested by State forces in Bacolod City and Manila during the raids against the regional offices of Bayan Muna, Karapatan, Gabriela, the National Federation of Sugar Workers as well as the residences of activists and mass leaders.
National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Communications Chief Martin Andanar said that supposedly seized by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) from those illegally arrested in the raids were “assorted short caliber firearms, sub-machine guns, machine guns, live ammunitions, hand grenades, bladed weapons, Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) flags, megaphones, microphones and voluminous subversive documents.”
Andanar must be delusional to even put supposedly seized illegal firearms and explosives side by side with KMU flags, megaphones, microphones and “subversive” documents as evidence of their connections to the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army. They’re now also desperately and illegally confiscating activists’ equipment as proof because they know that the firearms they “recovered” from the offices are shamelessly planted.
Even without Halloween, the people suffer under the very real and worsening horrors of State terrorism every day through Duterte’s Executive Order 70 and its “whole-of-nation” counter-insurgency campaign. This is exacerbated by Memorandum Order 32, which essentially puts Negros under a state of undeclared martial law. The Duterte regime is a big Halloween trick, but if the State thinks terrorizing the people will be effective, it is gravely mistaken: it is merely accelerating the horror of its own downfall.