Human Rights Worker in Zamboanga Decries Harassment

A human rights worker in Zamboanga has been subjected to harassment by suspected intelligence agents of the Philippine Army.

Dolorith Obsid, 41, a resident of Brgy. Carayagan, Josefina, Zamboanga Del Sur and a member of Justice and Peace Group (Jpag) complained of frequent visits to her home by suspected intelligence agents from the 5th and 55th Infantry Battalions, Philippine Army (IBPA). Obsid said her ‘visitors’ insisted that her husband is a member of the New People’s Army (NPA) and he should surrender. ?

Obsid was first visited by the two men in August 2009 who introduced themselves as members of the NPA with names Lucio Pitao and Dondon Ortiz. They told Obsid that they are her husband’s comrades and that she should come with them because her husband was confined in an undisclosed hospital in Oroquieta City due to kidney problem. Obsid did not go with the men and told them that her husband is not an NPA and works in some other place. The men still tried to convince her that they are from the underground movement and even told her they are holding their office in Davao City and came from Mission for Indigenous and Self Reliance People’s Assistance Incorporated (Mispa) Foundation in Lopez Jaena, Misamis Oriental.??The men came back on February 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. The man who introduced himself as Lucio Pitao and another unidentified man barged into her house. This time, they introduced themselves as state agents. Obsid was told that she should stop playing games with them because they know that her husband is an NPA.

The men also told her that her husband is sick somewhere in Lanao del Norte and insisted that she should come with them to find her husband and persuade him to surrender to avail of the government’s amnesty program. Obsid told them that if indeed they are state agents and are convinced that her husband is an NPA, they should be the one looking for him and they should stop pestering her. This angered the men and a heated argument ensued attracting the attention of Obsid’s neighbors who came to check what was happening. The men were forced to leave and told Obsid that they were not yet through with her and that they would come back that afternoon.

The men came back to Obsid’s house on March 9, at around 2:30 p.m. This time, the agents were with Caling Olarte, a former member of the Citizens Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu), who now serves as a barangay council member and a known military asset in the locality. They talked with Osbid’s friend, a member of the local peace keeping force, to act as go-between to convince Osbid to cooperate with the military for the peaceful surrender of her husband before anything bad happens. But Obsid’s friend told them that what they were asking was impossible because Osbid’s husband is not a member of the underground movement.

Disappointed the military men left but came back later. However, Obsid was able to go into hiding with the aid of a neighbor.

Floro Tabalina, coordinator of Karapatan Western Mindanao, said another set of suspected military agents came back to Obsid’s house last March 16 to 18. He said Obsid’s neighbors are helping her hide.

Tabalina said he advised Obsid to report the incident to the barangay but local officials are also afraid of the military men and refused to get involved.

Obsid’s husband is in Cebu City working as a construction worker.

Tabalina said that sometime in 2008, Obsid’s daughter, Jessel witnessed an abduction in IliganCity. He said the military tried to get her but the Karapatan chapter in Western Mindanao took her into custody. Jessel is now staying in Manila.

Obsid believes state agents are harassing her to stop her from continuing her work at Jpag.

Tabalina said the harassment of Obsid and other activists in the region is part of Oplan Bantay Laya, the counter insurgency program of the government. (

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