RMP NMR calls on the state forces to immediately release Goaynon and Udarbe.

Free Datu Jomong Goaynon and Tatay Ireneo Udarbe

Targeting human rights and land defenders in the country today has been intensified and made more reckless as President Rodrigo Roa Duterte maintains his aim to crush the revolutionary movement headed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) during his term.

The preposterous manner of arresting these human rights and land activists has become the norm after Duterte discontinued the peace talks with the CPP and the National Democratic Front (NDF) and declared his war against the New Peoples’ Army (NPA), the armed wing of the CPP-NDF.

In Northern Mindanao, the crackdown against activists have become blatant with the latest incident on the illegal arrest of human rights and land defenders Datu Jomorito Goaynon, chair of Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization, and Ireneo Udarbe, chair of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in Northern Mindanao. They went missing for more than 24 hours and were last seen at around 11 in the morning on January 28. 
Fearing for their safety, their families and colleagues sought help on social media and spread information about the incident which prompted also responses from netizens that led to finding Goaynon and Udarbe detained at the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) located at Camp Edilberto Evangelista in Barangay Patag on Tuesday, January 29.

Sensing they made a blunder, the Philippine National Police (PNP) regional office quickly informed the media on Tuesday afternoon that Goaynon and Udarbe were arrested for carrying firearms and explosives while on board a public utility jeepney plying the Bulua-Patag route. The police named Goaynon and Udarbe as top NPA leaders in the region.

In a press conference on Wednesday, colleagues of the groups which Goaynon and Udarbe head, the academe, the church and their families questioned the charges on illegal possession of firearms and explosives filed against the two citing they are public figures regularly seen on television and heard on radio whenever social issues arise and their engagements with the sectors they represent.

They also debunked the script of the police tagging the two as NPA leaders saying that Goaynon has been actively engaged with the lumad struggle bringing their voices to various fronts such as the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the academe and on the streets during the several “lakbayans” while Udarbe is also advocating the struggles of the farmers in Northern Mindanao.

Arnold Alamon, the Research Director of Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies (MIILS) and a professor at Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT) recognized Goaynon as the silent author of the book “Wars on Extinction” which Alamon wrote for MIILS.

Alamon said Goaynon was a vital resource of the book on the true condition of the lumad in Mindanao especially those driven away from their lands. “The reason why Goaynon has been targeted is to simply stop him from speaking out the truth about the plight of the lumad amid land conflict involving corporate plantations and the multinational mining companies,” he said.

Lawyer Czarina Musni of the Union of People’s Lawyer in Mindanao (UPLM) said the arrest of Goaynon and Udarbe was a blatant display of rights violations perpetrated by state security forces. Musni cited that the arresting officers belonging to the members of the 4th Infantry Division and the CIDG failed to show a warrant of their arrest. The police insisted there was a warrant of arrest, however, it only showed the name of Udarbe who is out on bail since January 10, 2019 while Goaynon’s name did not appear in the said document. Musni added that Goaynon and Udarbe’s right to inform their families and lawyers were denied upon their apprehension and detention.

These recent attacks of human rights and land defenders in the region are Duterte’s desperate move to quell the unrest threatening his authoritarian rule. The latest red-tagging of Goaynon as alleged NPA recruiter in Talakag, Bukidnon has been a pattern observed in other areas that ultimately resulted to arrests and worst death to those tagged.

The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) NMR condemns this latest attempt of the state forces to silence human rights and land activists like Goaynon and Udarbe by filing trump up charges and curtailing their basic rights.

RMP NMR calls on the state forces to immediately release Goaynon and Udarbe.

It further calls on the people to rise against the climate of fear and impunity that Duterte has perpetrated. #

Source: Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region

Date: January 31, 2019