On the same day that Kadamay Secretary General Carlito Badion was killed, members of urban poor groups in Rizal province were summoned by the military to clear their names from the list of alleged communists.
By JUSTIN UMALI
SANTA ROSA, Laguna – Human rights watchdog Karapatan-Southern Tagalog slammed the harassment and red-tagging conducted by elements of the military’s Southern Luzon Command, calling it a “desperate move to enforce state-sanctioned crackdown on the people of Rizal.”
According to the group, the Army’s 2nd Infantry Division and 80th Infantry Brigade were calling on residents of barangay San Isidro, Rodriguez, Rizal for a “local peace engagement” meeting, May 25. The residents were accused of being members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and are being invited to the meeting to “discuss the roots of armed revolution and clear the names of the accused.”
The residents received the summons via a letter coming from the National Task Force to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), signed by a certain Nica Endaya. The residents who received the letter were members of San Isidro Kasiglahan, Kapatiran, at Damayan para sa Kabuhayan, Katarungan at Kapayapaan (SIKKAD K3), an urban poor rights organization which NTF-
ELCAC asserted was a front organization for the CPP.
Kyle Salgado, spokesperson for Karapatan ST, said SIKKAD K3 is a legitimate people’s organization in Rodriguez that has successfully fought for the people’s rights for free housing and other needs. “Forcing them to surrender as members of the CPP-NPA-NDF is a desperate and fascist move by NTF-ELCAC in this time of pandemic. Instead of solving this crisis we’re experiencing, this is what they’re busying themselves with.”
In the “local peace engagement” meeting, which happened May 28, Karapatan ST found out aside from members of SIKKAD K3, residents from other barangays in Rodriguez were present; particularly from barangays Puray, Macabud, and Licao-licao. There were also residents from barangays Calawis, Antipolo, and Sta. Inez in Tanay.
The residents of Rodriguez have long fought for housing rights, and have long suffered harassment because of it. In 2018, approximately 200 residents from barangay San Isidro occupied unused government housing projects to assert their rights.
In 2019, members of SIKKAD K3, along with urban poor organizations such as the Montalban Homeless Alliance (MHA), became victims of red-tagging and other forms of harassment from police and military agents. One urban poor leader, Lilibeth Gelit of the MHA, was arrested on trumped-up charges.
Most recently, Kadamay Secretary General Carlito “Ka Karlets” Badion was murdered in Ormoc, Leyte, May 28, the same day as the “local peace engagement” meeting in Rizal.
Salgado noted that the Rizal crackdown, along with other recent incidents, proved that the “present regime’s priorities are in spreading terror and fascism against the people.”
“These attacks will only pave the road for the people to further assert their rights,” Salgado added. “The struggle will continue Southern Tagalog and together, we will frustrate the state’s fascism.”