By JOHN AARON MARK MACARAEG
MANILA — Independent think tank Ibon Foundation expressed alarm over a notice of “ocular inspection” from the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) in the wake of successive raids of offices of progressive organizations.
In a statement, Ibon Foundation said it received a call from a certain Col. Joaquin Alba of NCRPO at around 4 p.m. informing them that a warrant of arrest will be served on someone supposedly within the office building.
Ibon Foundation told Alba that the person indicated in the warrant does not hold office there but the latter insisted that they will still go to conduct “an ocular inspection.” The research group received information that a police team from Criminal Investigation and Detection Group was preparing to go to Ibon to ‘pick up’ someone (“may kukunin na tao”).
“This is alarming and we believe that it is part of the Duterte government’s worsening crackdown on activists upholding human rights and hence critical of its retrogressive policies and authoritarian governance,” the group said in a statement.
Ibon noted that the incident comes on the heels of a week of consecutive military and police operations against various activists and activist groups in Manila and Negros. “This included using spurious search warrants to raid homes and offices, planting guns and grenades, and arresting activists on bogus charges,” the group said.
Some 60 activists have been illegally arrested and detained in the past week.
Ibon is among many activist organizations and cause-oriented groups that have been red-tagged by the Duterte administration.
“The Duterte administration is attacking IBON because our research, education and advocacy work exposes Philippine economic realities that the government wants to conceal,” the group said.
The group also blamed the so-called task force to end local communist armed conflict for the ongoing crackdown against NGOs and progressive organizations.
As of press time, police forces have not showed up at the premises of Ibon Foundation building at Timog Avenue in Quezon City.
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) also alerted members of the Philippine media as Altermidya network holds office at the second floor of the building.
In a statement, Altermidya warned the Philippine National Police to stay away from its office. “Make no mistake about it, any breach into our office premises will be construed as a grave violation of press freedom and will be met with widespread condemnation and legal action,” Altermidya said.
DISCLOSURE: Bulatlat is a member of Altermidya, the national network of alternative media outfits in the Philippines.