Isabelo Adviento

Human rights defender Isabelo Adviento has been working at the regional office of the NGO Katinnulong Daguiti Umili iti Amianan (KADUAMI) in Cagayan Valley in the Cordillera in northern Luzon for 15 years. Adviento has been campaigning for the rights of small-scale farmers and marginalised groups for many years.

On the evening of April 8, 2022, Adviento was arrested in a restaurant in Bayombong Town in the province of Nueva Vizcaya by at least 30 members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine military (Armed Forces of the Philippines/AFP). According to the PNP, the arrest was based on an arrest warrant for alleged violations of the Illegal Possession of Firearms and Ammunition Act (Republic Act 10591) and the Illegal Possession of Explosives Act (Republic Act 9516). The warrant was issued on January 17, 2021.

The complaint stems from a PNP-AFP house search on December 2, 2020. Without a search warrant, around 100 persons from the 77th and 17th Infantry Battalions of the AFP and PNP stormed the house of Adviento in Baggao in the province of Cagayan in the early hours of the morning. The security forces forced their way into the house. Adviento was not there at the time. His wife, children and grandchildren were asked by the security forces to leave the house during the search. According to Adviento’s wife, the surveillance cameras outside the house were covered with a jacket and the memory card of the cameras was also removed. The state security forces claimed to have seized a bag containing firearms and explosives during the search. It was only four hours after the search began that personnel from the PNP Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) and the barangay arrived at Adviento’s house to serve the search warrant. Adviento and his family believe that the weapons and explosives were deliberately placed inside the house by the security agencies during the search.

Adviento had also been a victim of so-called red-tagging attacks (i.e., branding individuals or organizations as “terrorist”) several times before his arrest. He was followed by AFP forces, who took videos and photos of him, and received threatening letters from strangers. Adviento’s name and photos were put up on posters in public places and published on social media, where he was labelled a terrorist. An earlier indictment against Adviento, which accused him of three kidnappings with murder, was dismissed by a court in 2015.

In December 2022, the local court in Tuguegarao City approved an application for his release on bail. However, Adviento’s family, friends and colleagues have not yet been able to raise the bail of around 1,000,000 pesos (15,800 euros). His family is fighting for the case against Adviento to be dropped. Adviento is being held in Santiago City Prison in the province of Isabela.


Update: June 24, 2024


Photo © Raffy Lerma

Photo © Raffy Lerma