No end to trumped-up charges and unlawful detentions

On March 25, 2022, the Bayugan City Regional Court dismissed the kidnapping and serious illegal detention case against community doctor and Lumad supporter Dr. Navidad Castro. The court based its decision on grounds of the denial of her substantive right to due process. After Castro was taken from her home in San Juan on February 18, 2022, she was unlawfully detained in Agusan del Sur for more than a month. Filipino Nurses United (FNU) welcome Castro’s release while also calling for an end to threats and red-tagging, especially of health workers who are engaged in union activities.

However, arrests and detentions of human rights defenders based on trumped-up charges and fabricated evidence continue. On April 10, Aldeem Yañez was taken from his home in Cagayan de Oro by state security forces. They allegedly found a pistol, grenades and subversive documents. Yañez is a volunteer worker of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI). Both Yañez himself and the IFI have been red-tagged several times. Also, members of Indigenous Peoples communities are frequently affected. Recently, Edwin Oribawan Sr. was arrested on March 18. One of the most popular cases of unlawful detention is the case of Leila de Lima, a senator and critic of acting President Duterte. She has been in custody for more than five years due to accusations of involvement in drug deals. Not only one charge against her has already been dropped but also presidential candidates Leni Robredo and Leody De Guzman have spoken out in favor of her release. De Lima says, there is little support for her case among the presidential candidates due to a climate of fear under Duterte’s administration.

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